This Wednesday, high school students across Howard County will be voting for the 2016-2017 Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB).
In Howard County, the SMOB is one of the most important roles a student can play within their community. The SMOB is a current junior or senior attending a high school in Howard County who has a seat on the Howard County Board of Education. As the Student Member, he or she is responsible for attending Board meetings and sharing the student voice on issues that come before the Board.
The candidates for the 2016-2017 SMOB elections are Griffin Diven and Brooke Walker. Griffin Diven is a current junior at Wilde Lake High School. If elected as SMOB, Diven wants to alleviate tensions between students throughout the county.
“Lately there has been so much disconnect in Howard County through different situations. But out of the darkness, the good thing that has come is the student voice,” stated Diven.
Along with this, he wants to promote unity throughout the student body while making sure every unique voice can be heard no matter the student’s gender, race, religion, or ethnicity. Diven wants students to know that he is looking for the student voice from every background to guide him through his journey if he were elected SMOB.
Diven explained, “If any student is involved in any school club/organization please contact me through my Twitter @GriffinForSMOB. Hopefully we can work out a way so I could meet with you one-on-one or through social media about your voice and what you want heard.”
Brooke Walker, the second SMOB candidate, is a current junior at Atholton High School. Walker is involved in many different activities in and out of school. Some of these include varsity track and field, Student Government, Delta Scholars, Student Leadership Cadre, Black Student Union, Church Youth Group and more.
As SMOB, Walker would like to give more students an opportunity to get involved. She wants their voices to be heard by the Board.
“I am a good candidate for SMOB for many different reasons,” Walker said. “I am a good listener and speaker, which makes me excellent to voice the opinions of others. I am very easy to talk to and genuinely care about what people have to tell me.
“I also have great leadership skills because of all of the different leadership roles I am involved in,” Walker continued. “I believe that everyone’s voice should be heard, and I want to be his or her advocate. I think students need to know that I am a hard worker, and I will be dedicated to this position. I am very excited to be able to run, and if selected to be your representative, I will make sure that every student’s voice and opinion are heard.”
The 2015-2016 SMOB is Rachel Lin, a current senior at Howard High School. As the current SMOB, Lin attends bi-weekly Board meetings to represent the student voice. Prior to these meetings, Lin has to read a two-inch thick packet of Board documents. Along with being the SMOB, Lin also reaches out to students through social media accounts, goes to the monthly Howard County Association of Student Councils (HCASC) meetings and attends special events happening in the county.
As SMOB, Lin has voted on school start times, Policy 9090 Wellness through Nutrition and Physical Activity, and the 2016-2017 Academic Calendar. The 2016-2017 Academic Calendar had two options come before the Board from the calendar committee. The first stated that the calendar would continue to include the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah as well as the state-mandated holidays, while the second stated that the school calendar would only include state-mandated holidays.
“The Board meeting in January was when my colleagues and I voted on the policy: there was a unanimous vote to adopt the option which included the Jewish holidays as well as Lunar New Year, Eid al-Adha, and Diwali. This vote represents the diversity of Howard County, and now many different people can celebrate their holidays,” explained Lin.
Before the voting in January, there was a public hearing where the Board heard three hours of testimony from students and adults around the county.
It is important for the SMOB to be passionate about representing the student voice and to be personable.
According to Lin, “Being involved in school clubs like Student Government and Math Honor Society, as well as extracurricular activities such as swim team and Special Olympics, I am able to work with many different kinds of students. Howard County is very diverse, and I believe that I am able to relate with students, no matter the race, income, or demographics.”
To meet and learn more about these candidates, attend the HCASC meeting on April 13 at 7 p.m. Students in Howard County can vote for the 2016-2017 SMOB on April 20.