Viktor Kagan


Q: What clubs/activities are you engaged in at your school?

A: At Central, I’m a member of the debate team, the Eastern European Student Association, and the Jewish Student Union (JSU). I am a coordinator for three of Central’s annual events: Career Day, International Day, and the Dodgeball Tournament. This year, I served my second term as the President of my class (279). 

Q: What do you want/plan to do after high school?

A: I plan to go to college and involve myself in the school and local communities through cultural clubs and political and social activism. I have yet to choose what school I will be attending next fall, but as of right now, I plan to major in environmental science. I haven’t decided if I’d rather focus on the engineering or policy aspects of this field. 

Q: What is your best memory from senior year? 

A: It’s hard to narrow it down, so I’m going to give two of my favorite memories… The first was definitely my Senior Museum Day. On this day, the senior class visits museums across the city. My group visited the Penn Museum in University City. It was super interesting to see the artifacts at the Penn Museum, but what made this day even more special was spending time with my friends in an environment outside of school. It was so great for 279 to experience each other as people rather than students. My second favorite senior memory was 279’s Senior Day. On this day, we come to school in our best Central gear to celebrate our class and take pictures on Central’s front lawn. It was such a great moment for our class because we were able to celebrate our achievements together. 

Q: What is your best memory from all of high school?

A: I’m sorry to give two memories again, but I can’t choose. My first favorite high school memory was International Day of my sophomore year. On this day, Central students are encouraged to dress in outfits traditional to their ethnicities and to bring dishes for our International Day Cafe. Cultural clubs decorate the school hallways to celebrate their countries, religions, and cultures. That year, the hallways and the food at the cafe were amazing! We had closed advisory, but my friends and I convinced our advisor to let us roam the hallways. It was such a special memory! I also love International Day because I can speak about my culture to my classmates and teachers. My second favorite high school memory was 279’s Junior Ski Trip. As a member of the class cabinet, I had to fight for our class to have a ski trip. In the end, all of the hard work paid off and we were the only school in the district to have a ski trip that year. The ski trip was an incredible bonding moment for our class and it ended in a huge snowball fight! The only downside of the trip was that I left my phone at the ski lodge and had to drive back the next day to pick it up. 

Q: What is your greatest achievement? 

A: This year, I advocate for the seniors to have a three-day grace period to work on applications for college and scholarships. It was a helpful time for seniors to put the stress of high school on hold to focus on college. I hope that Central’s administration continues to keep this grace period as a tradition at Central because I think it can benefit all students! 

Q: What is one thing you will miss about your school?

A: I will miss the people at Central the most! Our community has such a great sense of pride and connection with each other. Central students are so dedicated and everyone wants to make a difference in the world! I also think Central’s Alumni Association is a very special part of our school community because they continue to support and celebrate their school far past their graduations.

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Q: How has your high school experience shaped you?

A: High school has helped me to grow into a genuine and realistic person. I’ve learned to effectively procrastinate and to effectively get things done. Time management has been, by far, the most important lesson I’ve learned at Central. My leadership roles at Central have bettered my communication skills and helped me to develop into a person who can express myself. Being a leader has allowed me to advocate for others and to help everyone’s voices to be heard. 

Q: Do you have any advice to give to incoming freshmen? 

A: Talk to your teachers! It’s so important to connect with them. Make sure they know you. If you’re struggling, explain your situation and concerns, and they’ll likely do what they can to help. I also encourage all freshmen to get involved in your school community as much as possible. Expand your horizons! I’ve seen many of my classmates struggling in their college applications because their resumes are too short. It’s important to involve yourself in any clubs, sports, or leadership positions that interest you. You’ll find your place! Be open to interacting with new people and be kind. 

Q: What are you doing to keep yourself engaged during the quarantine?

A: This is a bit of a basic answer, but I’ve spent most of my days on Netflix and Disney Plus. I’ve also been biking and running around my neighborhood. That’s pretty much it.

Q: How do you feel about your senior year being cut short?

A: It’s weird. Everyone expects answers to this question, but I’m still confused myself. I’m mostly frustrated about the lack of an action plan in response to this abrupt change. Nobody in any authoritative body (Philadelphia School District, local, state, and national government) prepared for a situation like this, and it’s really disappointing. I’m hoping that our summer will be preserved, so our class can enjoy some of our events. Our class sponsor suggested an online College Commitment Day. I never imagined that I wouldn’t be able to see my friends in person when we celebrate our college commitments. It’s difficult to be missing these once in a lifetime moments, but rather than dwelling on it, I’m trying to adapt and move on. Stay inside, so we can have our summer!

Q: If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?

A: Though there I have great relationships with individual teachers, I think there is a general lack of communication between Central’s student body and the administration. We have a great system that allows many students to accomplish so much, yet I find that students’ concerns are not met by the administration. For example, the A and B scheduling decision for online learning during the quarantine was made after no interaction with members of the student body. I feel that Central students should be more involved in decisions that affect us all. 

Q: If you could change one thing about the school district, what would it be?

A: The Philadelphia School Board Rep program allows Dr. Hite to gather with a small group of students every few months. This is a great concept, but I think it’s unfair that these representatives aren’t giving voter powers. Students don’t genuinely have a voice in the School Board. I also feel that the School District body is not representative of concerns across the district. Our district responds to issues with solutions that function at a marginal level, but this doesn’t necessarily fix problems for all students and faculty members of the Philadelphia School District. School Board members should be elected, not appointed, by Philadelphia high school students and parents. 

Q: If you could change one thing about Philadelphia, what would it be?

A: Going to Central has given me the opportunity to interact with kids from all over the city. In middle school, I knew kids who live in the Northeast like I do. My friends are from many neighborhoods across Philadelphia, but we all share the same concerns about our city. Segregation between cultural and racial groups in Philadelphia has prevented us from uniting in these concerns. Despite where we come from or what our backgrounds are, we are all Philadelphians. I wish the city encouraged us to acknowledge this common thread. Many of us have come from immigrant families or been affected by disproportionate opportunities whether it’s due to our skin color, socioeconomic status, or cultural background. I hope that Philadelphia will grow into a more united city that celebrates its rich diversity rather than separating it. 


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