Humans of Seven Lakes: Ben Simiskey

Ben Simiskey discusses his role as the 2022-2023 PTSA president and owner of the SLHS Spartan Nation Instagram account


Photo by Justin Hartojo

Left to right: Samuel Simiskey (class of 2024), Ben Simiskey, Noah Simiskey (class of 2022)

What are your responsibilities as the PTSA president?

There are a lot of things that the president does, a lot of them are administrative. We have, for example, a monthly executive board meeting. There’s a whole group of leaders in the PTSA for Seven Lakes High School, and so the president obviously will organize each of those meetings and make sure that each of the vice presidents or the committee chairs that are on the board have the resources that they need to do their job. I’m the liaison with Mrs. Finnesand. She’s also allowed me this year to be part of her monthly meeting with a lot of the student leaders on campus, and so she’s invited me to be part of that. There a lot of district meetings that I attend, so a lot of it is administrative. 

But really, for me, I mean, the thing that I was looking most forward to is just being with and supporting the teachers and students. While it’s not a formal duty, necessarily, for me, the only reason that PTSA exists is because of our parents, teachers and students. And so anything that I could do to spend time with them and support them is what I want to be doing.


What goals do you have this year for the PTSA and your role as president? 

We’re a membership association, so part of our goals will revolve around membership. We want to have as many members as we possibly can. But I mean, it’s not just a numbers thing, but it’s really about kind of building a community that we all can be part of. The PTSA is already the largest organization that we have on campus, because it’s the one place where everybody can be part of it. And so we hope to be able to bring value and grow our membership so that we can be even bigger and stronger and more of a voice and advocate for Spartan nation. Personally, just one of my goals this year is spending as much time as possible with the students and supporting them. There are programs and things that we do, but it’s more important to me to really try to be additive to the things that are already happening. 


Why did you start the Spartan Nation Instagram account? 

So that was not by accident. My older son (Noah Simiskey) that just graduated played on the varsity basketball team. My very favorite thing to be is a dad, so I love to go to his games, and my other son (Samuel Simiskey) has played in the past as well. So it was really about being there. I’m not a photographer, but I like to be there and watch his games, and I would take pictures while I was there, and it just kind of evolved. So I was obviously at all the boys basketball games last year. And then Noah had friends on the girls basketball team, and sometimes I would hear things like, you know, not as many people would go to the girls games, or they weren’t getting as much attention and visibility, which I totally understood and wanted to try to do something about. At the end of the season, when they weren’t playing on the same night, I tried to go to the girls basketball games and take pictures of them as well. And then a parent who has a daughter on the girls soccer team said, hey, could you maybe come and take some pictures at one of our games? And so I did that. And then it was the boys soccer and then somebody on the softball team reached out. And then it was baseball and track. And so it just turned into this thing. 

I needed a place to be able to share those pictures, and I was hearing from parents that if you go to some of these games, there aren’t a lot of fans at some of these events. It’s a shame for our student athletes that they don’t feel maybe the support, so I thought maybe there’s a good place where we can share these where everybody can see them and support all of the amazing teams all over campus. And so it just kind of happened. It was just a place to be able to share the amazing things that our student athletes are doing. 


What has been the student and community response to the account? 

I’ve just gotten so many positive comments and so much good feedback from student athletes that appreciate that somebody is there and taking pictures so, I mean, that’s been the most important thing to me. To be honest, there are a lot of other things that in my life that take up time, but the most important thing to me is being a dad. But my second favorite thing to do is be an uncle. I’ve got 14 nieces and nephews, and so being PTSA president, to me is a little bit like, now being an uncle to 3600 students. So I mean, just like an uncle, I just enjoy being there to support them and try to show my love and support for the things that they’re doing. So that Spartan Nation Instagram account, was, I guess, my way of showing all of those student athletes my appreciation for what they do, and hopefully their peers recognize that and their parents get to see it and and share that as well. 


Do you have a favorite sport to photograph?

I’ve always enjoyed sports, and so I like watching all of them. It’s easier from a photography standpoint, at least for me, it’s easier to do ones that are outside with maybe a little bit better lighting that are during the day, but I enjoy being at all of them. And I mean, I don’t know, maybe it’s cliche, but my favorite part is not even so much about the game or the sport that’s happening at the time, but it’s just about the athletes and trying to find those moments of behind the scenes kind of pictures or athletes with their teammates or celebrating with the crowd, things like that. Just little moments that mean a lot to me and hopefully are meaningful to them. I think you see the joy and the expression that they have in the moments, and so it’s just trying to capture those and then share them so that they can relive them.