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Student seeks state board seat

January 27, 2004|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The student member of the Washington County Board of Education wants to become the student representative to the Maryland Board of Education, but to get that spot he needs to persuade people to vote for him Saturday.

Brian Williamson, 17, a junior at North Hagerstown High School, is one of five finalists for the position. He is North Hagerstown High School's Student Government Association parliamentarian.

On Saturday, at an annual association meeting in Queen Anne's County, Md., about 720 students representing schools from across the state will hear speeches by the five finalists and vote on a student member on the board, Williamson said last Wednesday.

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Gov. Robert Ehrlich has the final say, choosing which of the two finalists with the most votes will serve, Williamson said.

If named to the School Board, he would take office July 1, Williamson said.

He would have to miss school when the state board meets on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of each month, he said.

Williamson said he is fascinated by politics and educational issues.

He said this is the third year in a row that Washington County Public Schools has had a student make it to what Williamson called the "final five." But unlike Lauren Low last year and Alaina Rowe the year before, he hopes to become one of the two finalists.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan wrote a letter of recommendation for Williamson to be put on the state board.

Morgan plans to attend the speeches to help cheer him on. Friends and others from the school system also plan to be present, Williamson said.

"He is very sharp and yet he is a really nice young man. He is very well-rounded. He is scholarly yet just very down-to-earth," Morgan said Monday. "He exemplifies everything we want a student to be."

Each applicant was interviewed in December and had to make a presentation on an educational issue, Williamson said. His presentation was on the High School Assessments, a series of state standardized end-of-course exams given in government, algebra I, geometry, English 9 and biology.

He thinks students who feel comfortable in a particular area should be able to take the test before the course and, if they pass, opt out of having to take the class, he said.

If appointed, Williamson would not be able to speak for all students, but he can provide a student perspective, he said. For example, he has been directly affected by the numerous tests students must take to meet state requirements

"It has really gotten too mundane," he said.

He said he thinks the number of tests being administered is excessive.

Williamson joined the county Board of Education as its student member in July, he said.

While he can't vote on board actions, he has asked that his opinion on each matter be noted for the record and the board has honored that request, he said.

Serving on the county board has been an enjoyable, learning experience, he said.

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