the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Chip Genung ’25 and Maya Tavares ’24
Last week, we had the opportunity to interview Westminster’s foremost student leader, Cooper Kistler ’22. Under the dim lighting of the Alumni common room, we have been able to take a look inside the mind of one of our great student leaders. We asked him questions about his experiences as Head Prefect so far and the road he took to excel as a leader.
What is the hardest aspect of being the school’s Head Prefect?
Cooper had a lot to say about the challenges of the Head Prefect position. Although he enjoys and is proud of the position, it has not always been as easy as he makes it seem. One particular challenge for Cooper is “identifying the perspective of every student and faculty member on campus.”
In order to lead the community, it is important to understand the perspective of all people and their connections to each other. This requires him to converse with people that he would not interact with otherwise. Cooper appreciates the opportunity to interact with all people on campus. He also states that the day-to-day tasks of the job are really not as intimidating as they may seem.
What is most rewarding about being a Sixth Form prefect?
From Cooper's unique perspective, he is able to influence change and improvement in the community. The energy that Cooper has put into the Westminster community has been inspiring to students and faculty alike, and in his eyes “the opportunity to see the community come together has been such a rewarding aspect” of the Head Prefect position.
How have you been able to take your leadership skills from the lacrosse field to a school-wide position?
As co-captains of Westminster’s Varsity Boys’ Lacrosse team, Cooper insists that a large part of his leadership skills come from the influence of former Head Prefect Will Rizzo ’21. The “special opportunity to watch Will Rizzo’s daily leadership and full year season goals” have helped him to develop such strong leadership skills. Again, perspective from the co-captain position has been crucial. A difficult part of the process has been understanding and encouraging the change that the overarching community wants to achieve.
During the brief time between the previous and following question, Cooper took a moment to stare underneath the common room table, and after several awkward seconds, he exclaimed:
“These are my flip flops!”
We are ecstatic for Cooper’s repossession of his Reef flip flops.
Has the Sixth Form prefect position been overwhelming, and, if so, how are you handling the stress?
Short answer, yes. The overwhelming nature of such a large leadership position has been stressful for Cooper at times, especially for certain things. It is continuously stressful as Cooper continues to hold himself to the highest possible standard. As a reflection, Cooper finds it important to step back and realize his personal goals, understanding that he is “just a student” the same as the rest of his peers. Taking time to step back and recognize personal goals in balance with the community has been helpful in times of stress.
Is there anything else you would like to say to the Westminster community?
When asked this question, Cooper had several responses. He stated that his goal is to inspire every student to understand that only one grade has seen a full year of school at Westminster. With a new Head of School, we have the unique opportunity to essentially rebuild the community. Leaving a lasting impression on the community that will long surpass his time at Westminster is the most important part of his position as Head Prefect. Cooper has been best influenced by those around him, and his final words to us was a sentimental background story to the phrase we hear every Monday. Our former Head Prefect Will Rizzo, on the last day before departing the Hill said to him — the keys are in your hands; dare to be great.