Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Friday, June 22, 2018 3:10 pm
Latest:
Feb. 20, 2018

Part Three of Four: Meet the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) candidates

by Nobline Yoo, Editor in Chief
The nominating convention will take place on Feb. 21 at Watkins Mill High School.

Tony Ricciardella, Sophomore at Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School
Tony Ricciardella, a sophomore from Thomas Sprigg Wootton, is running for SMOB.
Courtesy of Tony Ricciardella
Tony Ricciardella, a sophomore from Thomas Sprigg Wootton, is running for SMOB.

Q: What is the biggest reason you are running as a candidate?
A: The biggest reason is the lack of change I've seen in the county. I was on Alex Abrosimov's campaign team, so after losing twice, I kind of just have the drive and motivation to win something that our students can tangibly have in the county.

Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: Personality-wise, I'm pretty humble, really determined, brave, helpful and pretty calm.

Q: Why should you become the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) as opposed to the other candidates?
A: I feel that my determination and the skills I've picked up from being in the SGA (Student Government Association) might outweigh some of the other candidates. I've been working with students for the past five years and over the time, I've absorbed all of the problems that they've been telling me. Now, with my whole team, we've been working on solutions that are possible to solve these problems.

Q: What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A: One of my biggest strengths is my leadership skills I've picked up from being in SGA and the determination I got from being on Alex's team and continuing to lose. My biggest weakness I'd have to say is probably the fact that I haven't been in MCR [Montgomery County Regional SGA], and I haven't worked too closely with any of the board members.

Q: If you are not elected to become SMOB, how will that affect Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)?
A: There are a lot of good candidates. Nate [Tinbite] and Ananya [Tadikonda] are phenomenal, but I don't see them doing the same things as I would. Obviously, if I lose, I will have ever more determination to run next year. I would see the county being around the same level, even though there are phenomenal candidates and I love them.

Q: What's one issue that you see that affects high school students deeply and how would you try to solve it?
A: So, what I've heard from a lot of high schools I've been to is students are affected by the amount of work that they receive, and that it takes time away from being able to take part in extracurriculars and their social life. I would say that that's a big change that needs to happen. We are encouraging our students to do extracurriculars, which is what colleges are often looking for these days, and there are students who love to do sports, but just don't have time because of the homework. I know I personally had to quit track to keep up with my AP (Advanced Placement) classes, so I think a curriculum reform would be a big help to a lot of students in our county.

Q: What is your message?
A: We can't continue on the pace we're at where students don't know what the SMOB does, and they expect the world out of them because of promises they make. I actually want to benefit our students and the county.

Ethan Schwager, Sophomore at Walter Johnson High School
Ethan Schwager, a sophomore from Walter Johnson, is running for SMOB. Courtesy of Ethan Schwager
Ethan Schwager, a sophomore from Walter Johnson, is running for SMOB.

Q: What is the biggest reason you are running as a candidate?
A: I feel like the county deserves change, and I can help bring that change to Montgomery County.

Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: Hard-working, determined, curious, bold and courageous.

Q: Do you believe that MCPS is on the right path?
A: I think it has been on the right path before Matt Post, but currently, during Matt Post's tenure, everything has gone downhill.

Q: Why should you become the SMOB as opposed to the other candidates?
A: I represent the whole of Montgomery County, and I'm representing not only my supporters, but also students running against me.

Q: What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A: My biggest strength is that I have very strong leadership skills and I feel like I can really help. You know, I don't think I have any weaknesses in terms of leadership.

Q: What's one issue that you see that affects high school students deeply and how would you try to solve it?
A: A lack of break in general, but spring break in specific, really affects our students. Break is nice time to get away from classes. I'm going to bring back break, and I will do what we can do within the schedule to make that happen.

Q: What is your message?
A: We need to get rid of these old leaders.

Drew Skilton, Junior at Walter Johnson High School
Drew Skilton, a junior from Walter Johnson, is running for SMOB. Courtesy of Drew Skilton
Drew Skilton, a junior from Walter Johnson, is running for SMOB.

Q: What is the biggest reason you are running as a candidate?
A: In 2016, I started a website called MoCo Connect to relay the SMOB and other student government news to the students in Montgomery County, because I passionately believe that students who are not getting the news are not able to get the input they should to the student leaders. Student leaders are supposed to fight for the students, and they can't do that if they don't hear student input, so this was just the connection between students and student leaders. The idea was to inform, connect and empower. I don't think the SMOBs have been keeping up with promises to connect with the students, so we need a SMOB that's going to listen, a SMOB that going to be your voice.

Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: I'm caring, determined, hard-working, compassionate, and kind.

Q: Why should you become SMOB as opposed to the other candidates?
A: I think that through my experience inside and outside leadership, I know how things work. I've been a part of the Montgomery County Regional SGA. I've been on the SMOB advisory council, and I've been the school treasurer, so I've been in almost every single level. I know what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, but also on the outside - I know what these students are feeling. Through MoCo Connect, I've really worked on the outside to help bring these student voices in. A lot of my fellow candidates are qualified, but they're just on the inside.

Q: What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A: I think one of my biggest strengths is to always have an open mind and be able to communicate with students. I'm always open to hear ideas, opinions; I'm never going to turn someone away because I don't like the idea or I don't have the time. No matter who the student is, they need someone to share their ideas with, and I think my communication will be useful for SMOB. For weaknesses, I would say multitasking.I can't multitask, so I might not be able to get five things done at the same time for five different proposals. But if I work one-on-one I think I can get things done faster.

Q: If you are not elected to become SMOB, how will that affect MCPS?
A: Overall, all the candidates are qualified, but you know, leadership, as I say, is not about title. It's about the influence, dedication and impact that you make, and I will continue to make that influence. I will continue to make that impact. I will continue my dedication if I win SMOB. If I lose the general election, I will always find a way to help students, to represent students and to fight for the students.

Q: What's one issue that you see that affects high school students deeply and how would you try to solve it?
A: I think that one issue that affects high school students is the achievement gap, and I know that it's been promised in the past - "we're going to fight to close the achievement gap" - but we haven't seen the progress put forward. So I think continuing our rollout of more career-pathway programs will be helpful to students so that the students can gain interest in high school before they graduate. We need to add more resources to the schools that need them. Instead of pushing funding to schools that are already achieving at high levels, we need to look at giving more resources to the schools that are not doing as well academically.

Q: What is your message?
A: To the students of Montgomery County, I know that you are struggling. I know that you are hurting even if you don't see the impact that your SMOBs are making. And I think that your SMOB needs to always be there for you and always needs to listen to you. And I will do that. I will be your voice, so I ask you to make me your choice so I can advocate, so I can fight, so I can represent you. I thank you for everything that you have done, and I look forward to meeting all of you and hearing all of your ideas and concerns in schools. I'm always open to talk.

Ananya Tadikonda, Junior at Richard Montgomery High School
Ananya Tadikonda, a junior from Richard Montgomery, is running for SMOB. Courtesy of Ananya Tadikonda
Ananya Tadikonda, a junior from Richard Montgomery, is running for SMOB.

Q: What is the biggest reason you are running as a candidate?
A: For the past five years, I've been involved in student advocacy and leadership, and I've had the chance to hear the voices of a wide range of students from across the county. And I've noticed that a lot of voices are overlooked, and I think that as SMOB, I'll have the chance to reach out to those communities and really help them have the same resources as us and have the same voice as people from the other parts of the county. If I'm elected SMOB, one of the first things I'll do is implement a chromebook rental program to make sure students who don't have access to technology at home are not automatically being put at a disadvantage. And that way, I can ensure that there are no barriers on achieving.

Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: I would say that I'm thoughtful, persistent, optimistic, passionate and inquisitive.

Q: Why should you become SMOB as opposed to the other candidates?
A: I believe that I have the most experience out of all the candidates. I served as the vice president of MCR, the treasurer of MCR, and the treasurer of the countywide middle school SGA.I also serve as the founder and co-president of EmpowHER, which is a movement to bring more young women into leadership. I have a record of taking tangible action, and I think I'm very unique in that case, because a lot of SMOB's have talked about the problems, but they don't necessarily propose specific, linear solutions, and I think that's the only way we can get things done. So in that sense, I'm very strong. By outlining action plans, I'm telling students exactly how they can hold me accountable for it, which I think is very important.

Q: What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A: One of my biggest strengths is that I'm a communicator and I'm good at talking to people and connecting instantly. That instant connection is something that I've been able to develop over the past few years. I also think that I'm quite knowledgeable about how change is actually made, not just the part where you talk about what you're going to do, but also what it takes to get that change made. One of my biggest weaknesses is that I get very invested in everything that I do, and although that can be seen as a strength as well, I think that when we get really invested, sometimes we focus on the problem the whole time, which might not necessarily be the best approach. But I think I can combat it as I listen to the perspectives of different students from across the county.

Q: If you are not elected to become SMOB, how will that affect MCPS?
A: MCPS is an amazing school system, but I think that me getting elected as SMOB will ensure that we get that very unique perspective that I hold from the background that I come from and the experience that I've had. If I'm not elected, we might not see some of the things that students want to get done, because I think that I'm the only candidate who has clearly outlined how to approach each of my promises. So, MCPS might miss out on that aspect,

Q: What's one issue that you see that affects high school students deeply and how would you try to solve it?
A: I think that the two major things that affect high school students are the opportunity gap and the school environmental infrastructure. Whether it be the technology rental program, payments for AP [Advanced Placement] or IB [International Baccalaureate] exams, access to better school lunches for students who rely on those meals, cultural competency training for teachers or having more meetings in geographical locations for students who are underrepresented, I think those are all aspects that close the opportunity gap. In terms of infrastructure, I think that likely one of my task forces is going to be infrastructure, because that's a huge concern for many students. You can't learn in a classroom where the ceilings are falling out. Another issue that's important is mental health and stress levels. I propose a day-long seminar for every student per semester for discussing student mental health.

Q: What is your message?
A: I'm running for SMOB this year because I want to empower the students of Montgomery County by serving as their voice and ensuring that every community and every student in our country is represented so that we can make real, tangible change and translate it into every middle and high school.



Share on Tumblr

Discuss this Article

Silver Chips Online invites you to share your thoughts about this article. Please use this forum to further discussion of the story topic and refrain from personal attacks and offensive language. SCO reserves the right to deny any comment. No comments that include hyperlinks will be posted. If you have a question for us, please include your email address or use this form.
 

No comments yet.
Jump to first comment