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SMOB Public Forum

Words: Vaishnavi Mahalingam

On Wednesday, April 13, the candidates for next year’s Student Member of the Board (SMOB) participated in a public forum at the Howard County Board of Education building. The candidates, Wilde Lake junior Griffin Diven and Atholton junior Brooke Walker, answered questions pertaining to their viewpoints on certain issues and their goals if elected to the position. The event was moderated by the current Student Member of the Board, Howard High School senior Rachel Lin, and the president of the Howard County Association of Student Councils (HCASC), Libby Milano.

Each candidate began with an opening statement introducing himself or herself and his or her prior leadership experience, and provided a short statement on his or her goals if appointed to the position. Diven mentioned that he had had previous experience in the Social Studies Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and his theatre class. He emphasized the importance of promoting the student voice and ensuring that each student has full access to any opportunities that he or she wants.

“We need to ensure that student leadership is being promoted each day,” he stated. Walker commented on her past leadership experience in the Atholton High School Student Government Association, Delta Scholars, and Black Student Union. If elected to office, she communicated her desire to represent each student. “I believe all voices matter and all voices should be heard,” she said.

The discussion itself was purely prompted by the audience members. When the audience had questions, they wrote them down on pieces of paper and passed them to the moderators, who presented the questions to the candidates. Questions were also sent through Twitter, using the hashtag “#HoCoSMOB.” The candidates offered their opinions on issues such as school start times, the food policy, bullying, and the dress code. In addition, the candidates answered questions about how they planned to advocate for all students, the characteristics they possessed that would facilitate their campaign, why they were running for the position, and what their first priority was if elected to office.

The candidates each concluded the discussion with a thirty-second closing statement. Diven commented that his campaign was based on promoting leadership among students and making the student voice heard. “I want you to know that you have a voice,” he stated. Walker mentioned that she was running for SMOB in order to ensure that each person has a voice in the Board of Education. “Every single voice will be heard,” she said.

The final election for Student Member of the Board will take place on April 20 in middle and high schools throughout the county.

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