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School Board's student member learns about politics, process

January 06, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Zach Jamison, the 16-year-old student member of the Washington County Board of Education, speaks for thousands of student constituents.

The Washington County Association of Student Councils elected Zach, a North Hagerstown High School junior, to serve as the board's student member for the 2005-06 school year.

While Zach's recorded vote doesn't count toward the seven-member board's decisions, his presence has made a difference in the student body.

"One thing I've been doing is talking to students, telling them not to be afraid to talk to (administrators)," Zach said. "The schools can only get better if they voice their opinions."

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North High students have no problem with being vocal. Last year, The Herald-Mail reported a student-led protest after then-principal Robert "Bo" Myers removed the student body president from his post.

Zach said it was also common for students to distribute petitions, ranging from what should be served at lunch to determining who should speak at the senior graduation this spring.

"I feel that politics are very important," Zach said. "This is a group thing, that what happens to one will affect the other."

Zach said he's seen at least five petitions since he's been at North High. While he can't recall whether any of those petitions campaigns were successful, he said they retain some usefulness.

"It can be effective sometimes," Zach said. "It's a more reasonable way of saying what we want."

Sitting in the semicircle among the board members during the meetings used to be intimidating, Zach said. But he said he now has a better understanding of how things work.

"It takes a lot of effort to make little things work," Zach said. "It will take a committee two years to pick a new text book. I thought somebody could go into a book store and pick out a bunch of books."

Zach said he plans to work as a school administrator.

"Like a principal or something," he said.

In addition to his involvement with the board of education, Zach is the parliamentarian for his school's student council and is a drummer in the band.

Zach is also running for the student member spot on the state's board. The two finalists will be announced in February, Zach said.

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