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baltimoresun.com

Howard BOE student member sees role as 'pinnacle of student government'

By Blair Ames, bames@tribune.com

10:30 AM EDT, May 8, 2014

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Ever since Patrick Mikulis met the student member of the Howard County Board of Education while a student at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School, he knew he wanted to hold the same position.

Beginning July 1, Mikulis will have that chance.

On April 23, more than 20,532 students across the county cast ballots in the annual race for student member of the board, and Mikulis prevailed.

A junior at River Hill High School, Mikulis said he views the position as the "pinnacle of student government and student activism," and wants to be an example for other students.

"I'm hoping to get a sense of fulfillment in helping the students," he said. "The reason I'm up there is to help the students."

Mikulis, 16, said he became involved in leadership by running for leadership positions in Boy Scouts; he is now an Eagle Scout.

He currently serves as treasurer on the state Student Government Association and SGA vice president at River Hill. He has previously served as the PTSA representative.

"What I like most about SGA is that I can see and meet everyone," he said. "I get to understand the school as a whole."

In addition to his SGA duties, he is involved in the all-county Improv Troupe, Leadership U through Leadership Howard County and the ultimate Frisbee club at River Hill. He also started an improv club at River Hill.

Mikulis will replace outgoing student board member Al Corvah, a senior at Howard High School.

Corvah, who will be attending Harvard University in the fall, said the biggest challenge of serving as student member is budgeting your time.

One piece of advice to Mikulis from Corvah is to enjoy the end of the school year because, when July 1 rolls around, "time will be of the essence."

"There's not going to be much of it, and it's going to be hectic," he said.

Also, Corvah acknowledged that he didn't expect to have such a large role on the board.

"Truth be told, I had as much say as any board member," Corvah said.

While running for SMOB, as students refer to the position, Mikulis didn't promise "Taco Tuesday" or "Hoagie Friday."

Instead, Mikulis said, he promised to always look out for the students' best interest.

Mikulis did add that he would inquire about bringing salt shakers back to cafeterias, which were done away with as part of the school system's nutrition program; and adding Old Bay seasoning to high school cafeterias.

To be considered for the student member of the board, interested students must first apply and be interviewed by a panel of students and school administrators.

The eight applications this year were then narrowed to two before finalists campaigned for a month before the election.

Mikulis is in favor of the student member having full voting rights, although he acknowledged it's not something that can be done in one year.

"I would love to be the impetus for getting full voting rights for Howard County SMOB," he said.

Currently, only Anne Arundel County has a student member with full voting rights.

In Howard, the student member cannot vote on some issues, such as the budget, school attendance boundaries, personnel decisions and collective bargaining with employee groups.

"I'm just really excited," Mikulis said. "I'm looking forward to meeting everyone."