Students were introduced to the 2017-2018 candidates for the Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) on April 19 when a forum was held at the Board of Education. The candidates, Mt. Hebron junior Libby Milano and River Hill junior Anna Selbrede, answered questions from the audience about their positions on topics facing Howard County schools.
The SMOB sits on the Board of Education and “represents the student voice,” said Ms. Cindy Drummond, the forum’s sponsor. With full voting rights (except on concerns of budget and other restricted areas), the SMOB allows Howard County students to be able to participate in the decisions made by the Board.
The goal of the forum was to “bring the candidates together,” according to Milano, and was “a good way for students to know about the candidates,” according to Selbrede.
The forum began with the candidates delivering prepared opening statements where they discussed their respective platforms and goals. Selbrede introduced her three-pronged platform of “school atmosphere, communication, and student representation” before discussing her qualifications for the position.
Milano outlined her goals to “empower students to share their experiences,” so that they could “show members [of the Board of Education] that issues students are having have a face.” She connected this concept to her experiences with volunteer programs in cities across the U.S.
A common topic throughout the forum was diversity and inclusion. Milano described her involvement in Mt. Hebron’s Student Voice Circle after racist incidents occurred at the school.
“[The group] started discussions with the Board of Education so that we could make it clear that this is something we need to talk about and address,” said Milano when asked about discrimination during the forum. “A lot of times we shy away from [discussions about race] because it’s a hard conversation to have, but I think it’s an important one.”
Selbrede acknowledged the importance of appreciating open discussions of diversity within the schools. Selbrede discussed her plan to “make sure that the Board can provide the resources for every school to move forward in addressing diversity and inclusion.”
Milano and Selbrede differ in their goals and leadership styles. According to Selbrede, the most important job of the SMOB is “being an informed voter,” while Milano finds importance in “being known to students as a resource that they can use or someone who is genuinely advocating for them is the number one purpose.”
The event was organized by the Howard County Association of Student Councils (HCASC) and was live-streamed so that students not at the event could tweet questions to the candidates. The live-stream is available online at http://hcasc.hcpss.org/. HCASC has also created an introductory video of the candidates to be shown to all middle and high school students prior to voting on April 26.
Both candidates can be reached through social media and e-mail, and their websites are linked below.
Libby Milano: www.libby4smob.com
Anna Selbrede: http://annaselbrede.weebly.com/