Thomas Fitzpatrick and Panashe Mutombo were welcomed to the Harford County Board of Education Monday during their official first meeting.
Fitzpatrick was sworn into his new position as the Havre de Grace representative on the board earlier that afternoon and Panashe is the 2012-13 student representative.
Panashe was sworn in at the beginning of the school board meeting and received a standing ovation from his new colleagues, peers and family in the audience.
The student introduced his grandmother, cousin, brother, uncle, father and aunt to the board.
"They all support me," he said, referring to his relatives as "a few of the driving forces of why I'm here today."
Board President Leonard Wheeler said Fitzpatrick's ceremony that day was "wonderful' and "well attended."
"I'm honored to be here," the new board member said. "I've gotten quite a lot of positive comments from people in my hometown of Havre de Grace anxious for representation here on the board."
Fitzpatrick said he doesn't have a particular agenda at this point as to what he wants to accomplish this school year, but he's "here to learn, to help and to serve."
During the board members' reports, each congratulated and welcomed Fitzpatrick and Panashe to the board.
"It's a pleasure having a full board this year," board member Joseph Hau commented. Wheeler agreed, saying he is "beside myself that we have nine board members here."
Alysson Krchnavy called the two "wonderful additions to this board" and said "an open ear and open eyes" are required to be a member.
The new student rep
Panashe, who is replacing Havre de Grace High School graduate Tony Cofrancesco on the dais, is a rising senior at Patterson Mill High School and has plenty on his plate for his last year of high school.
He's president of the school's Key Club, vice president of the National Honor Society, a freshman mentor, a running back/fullback on the varsity football team and participates in track and field.
"I love volunteering in my community," he said, adding that he'll spend a few hours on a Saturday at a soup kitchen or helping out a food drive. "I like keeping myself busy."
Panashe recently got into kayaking at the suggestion of some friends.
"My friends said on a Saturday there was a kayak class and I said, 'Why not?'" he said. "It's become one of my favorite hobbies."
He hopes to major in political science with the intention of one day serving in the local or federal government.
One thing that makes Panashe unique is he is the first student representative on Harford County's Board of Education to have partial voting rights.