Harford school board bids farewell as Christian Walker wraps up his year as student representative

Harford County Board of Education member Christian Walker, right, offers his comments during a recent board meting. Walker, a student at C. Milton Wright High School, is the student representative on the board.
Harford County Board of Education member Christian Walker, right, offers his comments during a recent board meting. Walker, a student at C. Milton Wright High School, is the student representative on the board. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

Christian Walker, the now-former student representative on the Harford County Board of Education, participated in his final board meeting via teleconference Monday, which the board has been doing for the past few months to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Walker noted that he was somewhat glad that this particular meeting was not held at the A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air, with all of his colleagues around in person, because of the emotions involved.

“I really want to thank everyone for the extremely kind words and . . . just for being great colleagues and friends over this past year,” Walker said after each board member praised him for his work over the 2019-2020 school year, as the voice of about 38,000 Harford County Public Schools students, and they wished him much success in his future.


“I appreciate it more than you know,” Walker added.

The 18-year-old 2020 graduate of C. Milton Wright High School will attend the University of Georgia at Athens next year. He plans to study business and atmospheric sciences. His successor, rising Joppatowne High School senior Phoebe Bailey-Probst, will take part in her first meeting as student representative in July.


“She’s a fantastic leader and shows great grit and determination in everything she does, and I can’t wait to see all she contributes and accomplishes this upcoming year,” Walker said.

The board approved a resolution in honor of Walker. He was lauded in the resolution for establishing and facilitating “exemplary communication” between the school board and students, for “the extraordinary quality of his work,” his “willingness to share his time and energy on behalf of the students,” the “significant contributions” he made to the board and, overall, his “outstanding service” as student representative.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for the experience this past year,” Walker told board members. “Thank you for your endless support, kindness and wisdom.”

He noted that the past school year — which included the last few months of school system officials working to provide education to students despite schools being closed for in-person instruction because of the pandemic — “has been a great challenge and a great life experience” despite the many challenges.

Walker also lauded the nine adult board members for the positive relationships he has developed with each person and how well the group has worked together.

“It’s been a privilege to work with all of you and watch how we have grown over the past year,” he said.

Walker gave his sincere thanks to HCPS staff members who took the time to answer his “many, many, many” questions and requests for information and for their dedication to the school system.

“You all are often not thanked as much as you should be, I think, and I’ve seen first-hand how hard you’re working for our students, especially these last few months,” he said.

Walker also gave shout outs to two HCPS central office officials. He first lauded Susan Brown, executive director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, for her efforts to help him support students struggling with distance learning as well as reaching out to some students herself.

He also thanked Michael O’Brien, Executive Director of Secondary School Instruction and Performance, for his work to coordinate in-person graduation ceremonies for high school seniors this month. The ceremonies were very different from commencements in past years — when graduates and their friends and families could all gather in one venue — whereas this year’s ceremonies had to be conducted in line with state social distancing regulations.

The school system, with input from Walker and fellow student leaders, was able to put on memorable graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020, giving them the opportunity to still walk across a stage, get their diplomas and celebrate with their families.

“You were advocating for that and supporting the students who were really pushing for that from the beginning, and I really, really appreciate your efforts to put that together and everyone else that was involved,” Walker told O’Brien.


Walker thanked his “amazing friends” and his parents for their sacrifices and support over the past year. Finally, he addressed the younger student leaders.

“We are entering a time of tremendous change, and now is your time,” he said. “Seize the throne and make your mark on this community.”

Walker has been an advocate during his time on the board regarding a number of issues facing Harford County Public Schools, such as improving student mental health services and getting more students to feel comfortable seeking help for themselves or their peers, plus improving race relations in the HCPS community in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the nationwide protests that erupted in response.

He and Bailey-Probst worked with HCPS Superintendent Sean Bulson and other top officials to develop a survey for all incoming middle and high school students for which they can give their input on the current state of race relations in the schools.

Walker said Monday that there has been “a tremendous response,” with about 4,000 participants. Rising seniors had until Tuesday to fill out the survey, and all other students have until July 10, he said in a follow-up email.

“I hope our school administrators, teachers and parents are able to continue to spread the word about that [survey] in their communities,” he told board members.

Walker’s adult colleagues praised him for his authenticity, leadership, dedication, work ethic and care for his fellow students. Board Vice President Rachel Gauthier also noted Walker’s “stubbornness,” saying that “you have impressed me with your knowledge and your passion and your stubbornness — it’s just amazing to me.”

“I’m just excited for you,” she added. “I think its going to be an exciting ride to watch, and I’m glad that I got to be this little tiny part of your ride.”

Board President Jansen Robinson said he was initially impressed by Walker’s intelligence, but he also has learned over time that Walker is not only intelligent, but he cares about issues and puts solutions into action.

“He sees things that are wrong, that need to be corrected, and he cares about them and he gets involved,” Robinson said.

He said few people can combine their intelligence and caring and put both toward action for change, but Walker is one of those people who can.

“You are an example, not just for young people in your age range,” Robinson said. “You are an example for the adults as well.”

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