Giving students a voice

April 20, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - School boards constantly make decisions that affect students, but rarely are students given a voice, North Hagerstown High School junior Kate Zimmer said.

"We're the ones who are impacted," she said.

Kate, 17, said when she decided to run for an office on the Maryland Association of Student Councils, part of her platform was advocating for voting rights for student representatives on local boards of education.

And when she was elected to the office of first vice president, she was "goofy happy," she said.

Washington County Public Schools acting Director of Secondary Education Clyde Harrell said he believes the last time a Washington County student held a similar position was during the 2004-05 school year.

"I felt very accomplished," Kate said. "But I couldn't have done it without my campaign staff."

She began planning for her campaign for three months, all for about a day and a half of talking to other students at a convention before the election. She ran against three others, and said she was thrilled after the votes were counted about three weeks ago.


Her campaign chairman was Michael Digman, a fellow North Hagerstown High School student. Three other North Hagerstown students - Matt Amalfitano, Zack Jamison and Cassie Dobrzanski - were on her campaign executive staff, along with South Hagerstown High School student Lindsay Oberholzer, Kate said. Several other Washington County students were on her campaign staff.

Kate has been a member of the executive board at her school and for the Washington County Association of Student Councils.

"I feel like I'm making a difference," Kate said.

That desire to make a difference led her to seek a more substantial role in the state organization, she said.

"What they stand for is to really make a difference for students," she said.

An important step in that effort is to give students more decision-making power in the choices that affect them, she said. The Washington County Board of Education student representative, Sarah Miller, has no voting rights, but she is asked to offer her opinion while members vote, Kate said. She would like to see student representatives have at least partial voting rights.

After graduation, Kate plans to attend the University of Maryland at College Park, where she has a full scholarship to play volleyball.

For details on the Maryland Association of Student Councils, go to

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