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Student rep begins work on Board of Education

July 19, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

SMITHSBURG - Aaron Zaccaria knows he's going to make a difference.

The 16-year-old Smithsburg resident said he still is working out some of the details, but he took another step toward that goal Thursday by attending his first Washington County Board of Education business meeting as a student representative.

Aaron is an incoming senior at Smithsburg High School, and said he was elected to the position about two months ago by other members of the Washington County Association of Student Councils. He also is president of the student government association at his school.

Aaron said his first few Board of Education meetings will be spent learning about his role, but he has a few goals he would like to accomplish during his one-year term.

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"They make decisions," he said of the seven board members. "But I don't think they understand what students want."

The student representative does not get a vote during board business meetings, but is asked to offer his opinion while members vote.

Aaron replaces South Hagerstown High School graduate Sarah Miller as the student representative to the board.

He said he hopes to talk with his fellow Washington County Public Schools students and report to the board what his peers are interested in, and what their thoughts are about the issues being discussed.

While he's looking forward to making a difference for students across the county, Aaron said he also is hoping to gain leadership experience from his time as student representative. He's in the process now of applying to the U.S. Naval Academy.

"They look for people who are leaders," Aaron said. "And that's what I want to be."

Aaron said he hasn't decided what he would like to study, but said political science or engineering are possibilities.

He said the experience he would gain at the U.S. Naval Academy would go beyond academics.

"You can be a leader anywhere, but here they build leaders," he said. "It's people who really want to make a difference."

While Aaron knows he's going to make a difference, he also is realistic about his goals. During the election process, some other students said they planned to talk to all students and hear their opinions.

That's not a realistic goal, Aaron said.

"It's more efficient to talk to a representative from each group of students," he said. "It's impossible to talk to (every) student across the county and get their opinions."

Aaron lives in Smithsburg with his mother, Alisa Shindledecker. His father, Don Rupp, lives in Falling Waters, W.Va.

Along with his involvement in student government and his recent work with the Board of Education, Aaron volunteers at Washington County Hospital, a community health center and REACH.

At Smithsburg, Aaron is on the honor roll and serves as vice president of the Future Business Leaders of America and the National Honor Society.

He also has been a member of the soccer team, and still participates on the cross country and track teams.

"I'm focused on everything that's going to happen after high school," Aaron said. "My future is a big thing for me. I want to be someone who actually makes a difference."

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