Siddabathula wins 2018-2019 SMOB

On April 18, students across Howard County voted for the 2018-2019 Student Member of the Board (SMOB). After all the ballots had been tallied, the winner of the election was River Hill junior Ambika Siddabathula.

Siddabathula ran on a platform of “student representation and involvement, communication between students and administration, and also implementation and communication of the policies,” she said.

On March 14, the annual SMOB forum was held at the Board of Education. This year differed from previous years because the final two candidates were chosen by delegates from each middle and high school in HCPSS, not by judges. During the forum, both candidates sat next to each other and were asked questions about their leadership positions and plans for SMOB.

The final two candidates were Siddabathula and Centennial junior Kieran Newell.

Mt. Hebron senior Libby Milano headed the Student Member Convention, where she hosted the delegates and announced the final two candidates.

Milano said, “The committee made it an official HCPSS policy that there would be a convention to select the final candidates for the Student Member election. However, there were no guidelines or official plans in place.”

Before the students of Mt. Hebron knew who the candidates were, they discussed what the top qualities in a SMOB should be. The words respect, integrity, listen, represent, and responsible were the most common.

Mt. Hebron sophomore Sofia Majid said, “I don’t know who the candidates are, but they must represent me and listen to the voice of the students if they wish to be elected and be an effective SMOB.”

Before the forum started, the 2017-2018 SMOB Anna Selbrede gave her yearly report, and opportunities were presented for other students to utilize in the future.

Selbrede also discussed her favorite part about being SMOB. “For me, meeting students is energizing, whether we are talking about school improvement, redistricting, or just Harry Potter,” she said. “I’m also a huge nerd, so I enjoy doing all the reading and preparation for board meetings, and I like the challenge of analyzing a policy and asking questions to make sure it is the best it can be.”

Selbrede encouraged the youth to join their Student Government Associations and take advantage of leadership opportunities. Selbrede also said that she cannot wait to see what the next SMOB brings to the table.

The forum was broadcasted on a live stream as well as on some cable networks. In the forum, the candidates were asked questions and had one minute to answer the question to the best of their abilities.

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