Overshooting Underclassmen


Photo by Stephanie Zhang


Like many other students her age, Abigail Klippel, social media director of Best Buddies and freshman, joined Best Buddies this year because she said she likes the message “to be accepting of everyone and kind.” As the social media director, Klippel posts pictures on Instagram and uses social media and texts to keep club members informed.

However, Klippel also said she experienced some pushback from club members who disagree with the idea of a freshman leading.

“A lot of people are kind of wondering how I got (the position), and they think it’s unfair,” she said.

In general, it is rare for underclassmen, especially freshmen, to take on leadership or officer opportunities in clubs. Several large school organizations, including National Honor Society, are only open to seniors.

“Freshmen usually don’t even get a one-on-one match in Best Buddies,” Klippel said. “(The social media director) would usually be like a junior or a senior, someone who’s been in Best Buddies for more than a year.”

Assistant principal Amy Skeens-Benton said officer spots often go to upperclassmen “mainly because (club members) want someone who has some experience and has been involved in whatever the organization is so they sort of know how to run it, and then the confidence, obviously, is there with an upperclassman.”

Klippel said she also believes experience is an important part of leadership. According to Klippel, she feels comfortable with her job on Best Buddies because she is familiar with the club and its goals.

“(For some freshmen,) leading a club is kind of hard sometimes, just because you’re still trying to get used to the school. So you try to figure things out. But when I was in middle school, I did a lot of Best Buddies at the high school. I did a lot of setting up the events and cleaning up,” she said. “I’ve been really involved. Even though I technically was only in middle school, I worked really hard to get this.”


“But when I was in middle school, I did a lot of Best Buddies at the high school. I did a lot of setting up the events and cleaning up,” she said. “I’ve been really involved. Even though I technically was only in middle school, I worked really hard to get this.”Abigail Klippel, social media director of Best Buddies and freshman

According to Skeens-Benton, freshmen should not let other people discourage them from pursuing their interests in clubs and becoming leaders of their favorite organizations.

“(Discouraging underclassmen) is not the Carmel way,” she said. “All we talk about is encouraging people to get involved.”

At the same time, however, she said all students, underclassmen and upperclassmen alike, must be passionate about their club or organization before they can become good leaders.

Skeens-Benton said, “I would say they need to know their organization first. I think some people make the mistake, and they want to be a leader, and that’s what they want—to be a leader. It’s not that they have a passion for this certain subject or this club or this organization. They just want to be a leader. I think that’s the wrong approach. You need to find what you love and what you want to do, and then because of that, you want to lead.

“I just want to stress that the true leaders, the great leaders, are those that feel for their organization and have that involvement in it, because they really make a difference, because there’s something more than just leading it.”


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Miriam Hu