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Student representative is a voice for her peers

September 25, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Last year, Sarah Miller was a "nobody" in the Washington County Association of Student Councils, she said.

This year, the senior at South Hagerstown High School gives a voice to more than 21,000 public school students at school board meetings.

Miller, the daughter of Marsha and Larry Miller, acts as the student representative to the Washington County Board of Education.

"It's an opportunity to make a difference and get voices heard," she said. "I hope they'll listen to me."

Representing the students turned out to be a lot more than she signed up for, Miller said. Before every meeting, she reviews the agendas so she understands what the board will discuss.

"I wish more students would come up to me. I'd have more to talk about," she said.

So far this year, students have complained the most about the new wellness policy, Miller said. High-fat, high-calorie, high-sugar foods and drinks no longer are sold at Washington County schools during school days under the new wellness policy.

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Girls on her volleyball team want soda back, Miller said.

Presidents of the student council associations bring more serious issues to her attention, Miller said. A shortage of spaces in school parking lots is an issue faced by students at local high schools, she said.

Students have served as student representatives for at least six years, said Evelyn Williams, supervisor of secondary social studies for the school system.

Having students serve as nonvoting members of the board recognizes that student input is valuable and important, Williams said.

Miller feels pressure because it's hard to represent more than 21,000 students, but it's important that she tries because the students' viewpoints are not always understood during school-related discussions, she said.

Members of the school board have been "extremely welcoming," she said.

"They usually respond to whatever I have to say. I know I'm being heard," Miller said.

Miller, who has lived in Hagerstown for 15 years, fits in her duties around an already tight schedule. She attends classes at Hagerstown Community College in the afternoons, serves as the National Honor Society president for South High and as the school newspaper editor, she said.

Her dream job is to work for a magazine and she hopes to attend Pepperdine University and major in journalism, she said.

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