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Carroll County students speak up at Student Government Association General Assembly

Carroll County student representatives made their priorities known as they chose the next student representative to the Board of Education (SROB) on Friday.

Delegates from middle schools, high schools and alternative schools across the county filled Francis Scott Key High School for the Carroll County Student Government Association General Assembly. Their first order of business was to hear from student representative candidates.

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High schools can send up to 25 delegates and middle schools can send up to 10 for CCSGA general assemblies.

The three young women in the running, Emile Tedeschi, Uchechi Mba and Devanshi Mistry, gave brief speeches before opening up to a question-and-answer session officiated by CCSGA President Grace Johnson and student moderators.

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Candidates spoke about the need for more resources in career counseling, such as filling out college applications, as well as leveling the playing field for students whose families can’t afford private tutors for entrance exams like the SAT. They want to reach more students with information about the BOE policies that will touch their daily lives. One proposed strategy was a bigger social media presence. They also want to raise awareness for change in school climate, with more focus on inclusivity and more support for mental health challenges, especially at the middle school level.

All of the candidates found their way into the SGA in middle school, most starting as homeroom representatives. They were inspired by the way past representatives have shaped change, such as the dress code for CCPS.

The Q-and-A session challenged the candidates to think on their feet and address a broad range of topics. Their peers’ concerns included climate change, reaching students with access to technology, addressing bullying, understanding the recommendations and budget implications of the Kirwan Commission, concerns that standardized tests consume learning time, addressing discipline of racist behavior, the importance of extracurricular activities, helping students manage stress and tension, and brainstorming how to expand the SGA’s connection with the general student population so they are better represented.

Erick Zent of Francis Scott Key High School asks the candidates their position on climate change.
Erick Zent of Francis Scott Key High School asks the candidates their position on climate change. (Phil Grout//Carroll County Times)

After the delegates voted, Mistry was declared the SROB-elect for a second year. SROB’s must serve one year as elect before becoming the full-fledged SROB. Because Mistry was voted in twice she will serve as the full SROB for two years, as a junior and senior.

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The afternoon consisted of breakout meetings grouped by regions to get students from nearby schools and feeder groups talking. Then there were sessions on specific topics, like running a campaign and parliamentary procedure. Commissioner Eric Bouchat R-District 4 led two sessions sharing his personal experience as an elected official at the county level.

Whatever the students’ passions in life, he encouraged them to find ways to make public service a part of their lives.

The day ended with a business meeting where students made small changes to the language of bylaws and voted on new legislation concerning private school students. Private schools are welcome to send delegates to CCSGA, and will have privileges to vote for CCSGA officials and legislation after participating for one year. Private school delegates cannot vote for the SROB because they are not affected by the policies of the CCPS Board of Education and cannot run for county-level SGA offices.

The bylaw changes passed unanimously through the gathered students, but where there was debate, students lined up to speak pro and con for the legislation before Johnson called for the vote.

The next big event for the CCSGA is their Advocacy Day on March 12, when they will travel to the Maryland General Assembly to witness the state’s legislators at work.

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