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North High pupil a finalist for state Board of Ed seat

February 03, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A North Hagerstown High School junior's goal to become the student representative on the Maryland Board of Education is in the hands of Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Brian Williamson, 17, on Saturday became one of two finalists for the position.

Williamson, the student member of the Washington County Board of Education, is North Hagerstown High School's Student Government Association parliamentarian.

The finalists' names have been given to Ehrlich, who is expected to name the representative to the state board by March, Williamson said Monday. Williamson said he expects to learn in the next few weeks whether Ehrlich wants to interview him and the other finalist before making the decision.

"I am thrilled to make it to the final two. I am keeping my fingers crossed," he said.

The other finalist is from Howard County.

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 it is the first time a local student has been one of the two finalists.

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The present situation - waiting for a decision from Ehrlich - is harder for him than was preparing and giving his speech at the Maryland Association of Student Councils' annual legislative session in Queen Anne's County Saturday, Williamson said.

"My part is done. I have done all I can," Williamson said.

Williamson said he was randomly chosen to be the first of the five finalists to give his speech and to ask about 800 students from schools from across the state to vote for him to become the student representative.

Williamson said he was fine with going first because he figured the audience likely would remember the first and last speakers. The speeches were followed by a question-and-answer session with the candidates, he said.

In his speech, Williamson talked about the High School Assessments and his belief that 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 taking the class.

Williamson joined the county school board 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.

In his speech he talked about "student member voting rights" and how he would like all school systems to following the Washington County school board's practice, he said.

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

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan wrote a letter of recommendation for Williamson in his quest for the seat on the state board.

Morgan said on Monday that she saw him give his speech and was impressed by what she heard.

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