School board's new student member has developed gift for having her say

The Baltimore Sun

As a third-grader, Adejire Bademosi didn't hesitate to contact then-Superintendent John R. O'Rourke with concerns about the suspension rates of her fellow students.

In middle school, she approached state Sen. Allan H. Kittleman about the dangers of Internet predators. That overture resulted in her speaking to teachers throughout the county during Internet safety training sessions. And Kittleman introduced legislation dealing with the issue during the recent General Assembly session.

As the newly elected student member of the Howard County Board of Education, the 16-year-old sophomore at Marriotts Ridge High School hopes to continue to have her voice heard by adults.

The Woodstock resident defeated Phil Lasser of Atholton High in the April 18 election. The voting was 10,092 to 8,124.

Bademosi used a grass-roots approach for her campaign. She visited schools and met students face to face, instead of relying on supporters to spread her message.

"I tried going to different places, and I talked to the students. I tried to get to them. It was my main goal," she said. "I thought that if the students heard what I had to say, they would probably support me."

The importance of education holds special significance for Bademosi, who said it was critical to keeping her family afloat following the death of her father 13 years ago.

"If my mom didn't have education, we wouldn't be where we are today," she said of her mother, Irene, a guidance counselor at Mount Hebron High.

Bademosi believes in finishing her endeavors. She has used findings that have sprung up over years following that long-ago conversation with the superintendent in an analysis of gifted and talented offerings for black students. Her research in that project has her in frequent contact with scholars at the University of Connecticut and Harvard University.

In addition, Bademosi stays busy working with several groups and organizations.

She is vice president of her school's multicultural club and African-American awareness club. She serves as vice president for the Howard County NAACP youth council. She's a member of the Model United Nations and the debate club. She works with the Achieving Change Together Club, a countywide community service group. She's also president and founder of the Nigerian American Student Government Association.

"It's what I would like to do," she said. "I really love doing things within the community and keeping myself busy. I plan on being an activist."

Bademosi wants to find a way to include students who are prevented from participating in leadership positions because of poor academic performance.

"I really want to go back and bring hope to all students," she said. "I want Howard County to be No. 1 for all students, not just a selected few. Each and every student counts."

Bademosi will be sworn into the position at a school board meeting in June. She officially takes over from current member Andrew Gravelek on July 1. Gravelek, a senior at Reservoir High, plans to enter the Coast Guard Academy after he graduates.

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