Siyam Tekle: from Olympic dreams to Student Body President

Junior Siyam Tekle shares her experiences with gymnastics and her path to being elected as Shorewood’s next ASB president.

Photo+courtesy+of+Siyam+Tekle

Photo courtesy of Siyam Tekle

by Jade Doerksen, Associate Editor

Hip-hop to leadership, Siyam Tekle has done it all. With her honesty and determination, she has truly become a jack of all trades. Currently, Tekle is a junior senator for student leadership (ASB), and a co-captain for the hip-hop team. However, her story doesn’t start there. 

When Tekle was 7, her mother decided to put her in recreational gymnastics after she would not stop flipping over the family couch. According to Tekle, “usually people start around 5, or 6” and she “was the oldest [and] tallest one.” She continued to do gymnastics for more than five years. Eventually, Tekle was at gymnastics five to six days a week for about four hours each day. During this time, she imagined a future in gymnastics, and aspired to be like Olympian Gabby Douglas. However, Tekle soon found herself not enjoying the sport anymore.

“As much as I loved competing, [and] loved learning a new skill… I didn’t find happiness in the sport anymore,” Tekle said. She quit at age 14 to pursue happiness in other activities, but at first she didn’t know what to do. 

Nothing seemed to fit, until she found hip-hop. In Tekle’s eighth grade year, hip-hop leadership from Shorewood came to visit hoping incoming freshmen would join the team. Tekle decided to try out, and was accepted. 

According to Tekle, what keeps her returning to hip-hop is her teammates, and the atmosphere where “the music’s playing [and] everyone’s making jokes,” but that’s not all. “[Hip-hop is] a way to represent myself,” said Tekle. Although she is uncertain if she will pursue hip-hop after high school, she plans on participating in hip-hop for all four years at Shorewood. 

Although performance and athletics have been significant parts of her life, activism is also essential to Tekle’s character. As a freshman, she decided to run for one of the sophomore senator positions in ASB. “At first I was ready to submit my application, but I remember there was… [a] feeling… like ‘do I really want to do this? What is my purpose for being here?’” Luckily, now alum and former ASB corresponding secretary, Anna Chang convinced her to submit the application saying “‘Just do it. You’ll see how fun it is.’” 

Chang was right. Tekle said that during her first year of leadership in sophomore year she loved all of it.

”Even though it was cut off,” she said, “it was that initial doing things for people, [and] working with people to bring fun to Shorewood,” that made it fulfilling. One event that particularly speaks to Tekle is Homecoming.

According to Tekle, homecoming is “very fun when it happens, but the process of doing it is adrenaline rush[ing]” because of all the tasks necessary to plan the event. Some non-leadership people may not understand the amount of work leadership puts into these events. “I do at times feel that we are under-appreciated because we genuinely do try,” said Tekle. 

Throughout her time in leadership, her goal has been to make sure everyone has at least “one thing they look forward to at school.” Tekle added, “When we think of school we just think of our classes and we are like ‘oh I don’t want to do this’ but that’s what ASB is, making sure there is more than just tests and homework.” In order to make this goal a reality, along with the hope for more equity and representation at Shorewood, Tekle decided to run for ASB president. She won.

Her ASB presidential platform of representation is not just something she speaks about, but something she puts into action. This shines through in her participation in Black Student Union (BSU) which she joined at the beginning of her freshman year. According to Tekle, BSU focuses on history, and highlighting “how important black contribution is to the world.” Each year, BSU presents an assembly during February, Black History Month, which often discusses important black figures, tells stories of racism and resistance, and includes performances from various groups like the Step Team. Tekle added that the focus of BSU is to “reach out to the school.” Her focus on inclusion is likely one of her biggest contributing factors to ASB and she said when she is at leadership she is constantly checking, “‘am I thinking about every single community?’” 

Tekle is often breaking barriers between social groups as a hip-hop co-captain, soon-to-be ASB president, BSU member, and a member of various other clubs and activities. 

Some may wonder, why does she do so much? Tekle said, “If you as a person put yourself out there to try your best and represent everyone then it’s going to make a better community.”