Final two Howard student school board candidates answer questions at student-run forum

Final two Howard student school board candidates answer questions at student-run forum
Long Reach High School junior Hannah Witkin, right, and Allison Alston, a junior at Reservoir High School, answer questions at the Howard County student member of the board forum on Wednesday night. (Jess Nocera / Howard County Times)

The final two student member of the board candidates for the Howard County Board of Education were asked a series of questions at a forum earlier this week, including what utensil would they be.

Hannah Witkin, a junior at Long Reach High School, immediately said she would be a spoon because she’s here to “mix things up.”


Allison Alston, a Reservoir High School junior, said she would be a sink; while not a traditional utensil, she focused on how water comes from a sink and how important water is in terms of cooking.

Questions, all asked by fellow students, ranged from what would be their first priority as the student board member, how to improve communication, what trait would they improve on if elected and one quality that their opponent possesses.

Hannah’s first priority if elected as the next student member, she said, would be to go to as many schools as possible and speak with as many underrepresented students as she can. Meaning, she does not want to just talk to students who are involved in student government, but to all students.

Allison would look to establish a mental health awareness night as soon as she assumed her role. The night would focus on students learning about ways to take care of themselves.

The two candidates did not have any of the questions ahead of time, and they had 45 seconds to answer each question.

The Wednesday night forum, held at the Homewood School, was hosted by the Howard County Association of Student Councils. The association is for middle and high school students who participate in student-run monthly meetings that the student member of the board also attends.

Allison and Hannah were chosen last month out of 14 potential candidates at a student-run convention at Wilde Lake High School. Student delegates, 132 of them representing all county middle and high schools, participated in the convention, voting for the top two candidates.

Now the two are vying for the board seat to represent the 77-school district and its nearly 58,000 students.

The winner will be elected April 24 by all middle and high school students.

All 24 public school districts in Maryland have a student member, as does the MAryland State Board of Education. Approved in 1985, the state board’s student member is appointed by the governor and is able to vote on all matters except those pertaining to appeals or personnel.

The Howard County student member can vote on all issues except those pertaining to personnel, the school budget or other restricted matters.

To the question on what trait would they improve on if elected, Allison said she would work on not getting too caught up on a single task as she sometimes has “tunnel vision.”

Hannah would work on saying no to things, so she does not overexert herself as she realizes “you have to limit yourself sometimes.”

Allison said Hannah’s “dedication is something I admire the most ... she is able to give her best and she is able to find balance.”


The quality Hannah admires the most from Allison is “her realness.”

“She’s a really genuine person and I think if she was elected she would be able to understand people,” Hannah said.