Andrew Gavelek will make history this year as the first student member of the Howard County Board of Education to have partial voting rights.
A 16-year-old junior at Reservoir High School, Gavelek was announced at Thursday's board meeting as the winner of the mid-April election over at Atholton junior Osama Eshera and Reservoir sophomore Sarah Singer. Students in grades six through 11 voted.
"I feel honored," he said. "It feels good to be a part of history."
A student-athlete, Gavelek said he was able to relate to voters. Attending two high schools - he attended River Hill his freshman year - also increased his visibility, he said.
"I've seen different perspectives at each school," Gavelek said. "That is what helped me stand apart."
Gavelek, who will replace Atholton senior Wossen Ayele on the board, said he looks forward to uniting Howard County students.
"They need to come together and decide what they want to be done with their education," he said.
He also wants to investigate High School Assessments. "I don't think that they should be put on our college transcripts," he said. "HSAs are a big issue."
When Gavelek officially joins the board - and after Gov. Martin O'Malley approves the legislation that will give him voting rights - he will be able to vote on everything except site acquisitions, condemnation, consolidation, architect selection, appointment and salary of the superintendent, collective bargaining issues, employee discipline and other appeals, appointments, the capital and operating budgets, and student suspensions and expulsions.
The election attracted 19,454 voters, or about 80 percent of those eligible to vote.
"We met our goal," said Roger Plunkett, business, community, government relations officer for the school system. "It went very, very well."
The election process was a major undertaking by Plunkett and election coordinator Amy Butler, a senior at Wilde Lake High School.
"She did a fantastic job," said Plunkett, who also served as Butler's mentor.
Plunkett and Butler met with the Howard County Board of Elections, coordinated election judges and oversaw the vote certification process at the school level.
Eventually all votes were tallied at the school system's central offices.
"It was a long process," Plunkett said.