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State student council - North High

February 01, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

More than 600 student council leaders from 20 middle schools and 74 high schools in Maryland converged on the North Hagerstown High School campus Saturday to talk about changes they'd like to see in education.

At the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MASC) 1998 Legislative Session, students debated issues affecting them, adopted positions on legislation pending in the Maryland General Assembly, and discussed lobbying strategies.

They also chose two students out of five nominees for student member of the state Board of Education. They were Rebecca Gifford of Wilde Lake High School in Columbia and Michael Romano of River Hill High School in Clarksville. One of those two students will be named to the board by Gov. Parris Glendening this summer.

Student board members attend all state board meetings and represent the educational interests of students throughout the state. They ask questions, argue points, and vote on all issues except the budget, and legal and personnel matters.

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South Hagerstown High School sophomore David M. Iseminger, 15, was one of the five finalists chosen from candidates statewide who spoke before their peers and answered questions during a late morning general assembly. He was the only candidate from Washington County.

Iseminger is the son of Harold and Barbara Iseminger of Oak Valley Drive in Hagerstown.

In his "campaign" speech, Iseminger said he maintained a 4.0 grade point average, became an Eagle Scout in 1997 at age 14, is active in soccer and band, and is on the student council. He has won numerous educational honors.

Iseminger said he supported raising educational standards on several levels. He wanted to see improved requirements for teachers, and tightened standards for teacher recertification. He advocated peer tutoring programs in schools, and motivational programs designed to get kids more interested in learning all they can, rather than in doing just enough to pass. He said he felt parental involvement in local schools was also an important piece of that puzzle.

Asked what plank of the students' platform he would focus on the most if he was named to serve on the state board, Iseminger said it would be education about sexually transmitted disease. "Twenty or 30 years ago, if you made a mistake you could get pregnant or a penicillin shot. Today, sexually transmitted disease can be a death sentence," he said.

As part of their extensive platform, the students called for:

- "Abstinence-based, not abstinence only" sexuality education that teaches how to say 'no' and talks about abstinence, as well as gives information on safety precautions.

- Full-time school counselors at all grade levels, and peer counseling programs designed to help identify and combat teen depression and prevent teen suicide.

- Establishment of tobacco-free environment in schools, and stop-smoking programs to help students and staff.

- Continued drug/alcohol education programs.

- A study of ways to prevent school violence and vandalism, including peer mediation.

- Creation of environmentally-sound schools.

- Equal funding for education in the local school systems.

- Support for the Gun-free Schools Act of 1994, and the provision that says any student who brings a firearm to school should be expelled for not less than one year.

The students said they oppose any voucher program that would use public money to fund private school education.

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