By: Bryan Geary
Tasked with presenting to Tilton’s Board of Trustees on behalf of the student body, Clément LaBillois ’22 and Kai Tsoar ’23 had all the details planned out, right down to their matching black polo shirts.
“Actually, that was just great minds thinking alike,” says Tsoar. “We didn’t even realize we were wearing the same shirt until someone told us.”
Intentional or not, their coordination is representative of their relationship. LaBillois, who is from Quebec, Canada, and Tsoar, who is from California, are friends, hockey teammates, and now, running-mates. They do a lot together, and this new endeavor has been the plan for a while. They bonded through the circumstances of the 2020-21 school year. As a precaution for COVID-19, students coming to Tilton from outside New Hampshire were asked to arrive to campus two weeks earlier than their in-state peers.
“We were the first two students here,” says LaBillois of he and Tsoar. “And we got along right away.”
The idea to run as President and Vice-President came from Tsoar, who arrived at Tilton knowing student government was something he wanted to do. “I came here with the idea of a fresh start,” he says. “Coming to Tilton from California was going to be a big transition no matter what, so I just realized if I jump in and get involved, I won’t have time to think about missing home.”
“They always told me, ‘you’re going to be a three-dimensional person.’
I never understood that until this year.
After running for student government as a 9th grader, Tsoar won the office of Class President during his 10th-grade year. Once he and LaBillois became friends, they realized quickly that, not only would leading the student body be fun to do together, but also that they could make a real difference on campus, particularly coming out of the difficult 2020-21 school year.
“I told him we should run together, like a Batman and Robin duo,” laughs Tsoar. “We took the attitude that this is our year and we want to make a positive impact for the whole school.”
You could say that fun is a top priority of the LaBillois/Tsoar administration. From impromptu dodgeball tournaments to lively Black and Gold competitions at school meetings, their mark can be felt in all aspects of life at Tilton. You can even find them each weekend, dressed in their Sunday best, plotting their way across a homemade (modified) golf course on campus.
Beyond the liveliness you can see and hear each day, they’re each enjoying the opportunities for leadership and growth with their positions. “This is a game-changer for me,” says LaBillois. “I came here expecting to play hockey, do my thing, and leave. Now, being someone who is involved in the school community as a leader, it’s a great experience that’s made coming here so worth it.”
Tsoar echoes the sentiment of his running mate: “I went to a public high school for one year and was always in the middle of the pack. I saw myself as a hockey player who does school. But here, they told me, ‘you’re going to be a three-dimensional person.’ I never understood that until this year; I’m way more than a hockey player and I can’t be more grateful for that.”