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Feb. 20, 2018

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

by Nobline Yoo, Editor in Chief
Nate Tinbite, Sophomore at John F. Kennedy High School *
Nate Tinbite, a sophomore from John F. Kennedy, is running for SMOB. Courtesy of Nate Tibnite
Nate Tinbite, a sophomore from John F. Kennedy, is running for SMOB.

Q: What is the biggest reason you are running as a candidate?
A: I've seen with my peers, my friends and especially students at my school that they are in need of unity. We need our student body to be much more represented, and I will bring a diverse perspective that our student body needs. I want to strengthen ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programs and the Minority Scholars Program. There is much more work that needs to be done for our peers and we don't get that from one term, but we still need somebody to be the catalyst for change.

Q: Describe yourself with five words.
A: I'm friendly, optimist, innovative, persistent and pretty chill.

Q: Why should you become the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) as opposed to the other candidates?
A: We need an experienced SMOB who has already done things. SMOBs need to build up that trust and respect with other colleagues and members of the Board, and I have built up that trust over the past few years. The fact that I am Chief of Staff right now will help to set me apart. I advocated for fixing ESOL classes and making them not as big, and I have also petitioned for unblocking the Wi-Fi.. I have always tried to fight for my peers and that is something that you're going to see next year if I win.

Q: What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A: I am really persistent, which has really helped me out. In terms of weaknesses, I'm not sure that I necessarily have any. Again, my experience sets me apart from other candidates.

Q: If you are not elected to become SMOB, how will that affect Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)?
A: Even if I don't win, I hope that I can still have the opportunity to work with the SMOB that does win. Although, it should never come to that, considering that I tend to continue to fight really hard for what I want.

Q: What's one issue that you see that affects high school students deeply and how would you try to solve it?
A: The biggest problem facing us are mental health issues and depression. We shouldn't be acting after an incident has already happened, and we need to put things into place to prevent them from happening. This is something that has deeply affected me and my friends, and it has been seen countywide. For example, a lot of students may not know about the school psychologist, and that is why, at the last board meeting, I advocated for programs that will prevent depression.

Q: What is your message?
A: I hope that the students see that we need a SMOB that has experience and can work for the students. I hope the students see the vision and the optimism that I have.

Q: What are your hobbies?
Watching Jimmy Kimmel would be considered a hobby, but that's something that I do.

Shiteng Jaden Wang, Sophomore at Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School
Shiteng Wang, a sophomore from Thomas Sprigg Wootton, is running for SMOB. Courtesy of Shiteng Wang
Shiteng Wang, a sophomore from Thomas Sprigg Wootton, is running for SMOB.

Q: What is the biggest reason you are running as a candidate?
A: Ever since I was in sixth grade when I first joined the SGA (Student Government Association), I saw SMOB candidates promise everybody that things would happen...right? Eric came, and he gave the SMOB more power to do so, but after that I haven't seen much change. So, I decided,to step up to bring some change to MCPS.

Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: I'm ambitious, diverse, social, hard-working and aware.

Q: Why should you become SMOB as opposed to the other candidates?
A: I believe I should become SMOB, because despite agreeing with my fellow candidates, a lot of them are not forward-thinking enough. They want changes that are either really short-term or just basically inconceivable. As SMOB, I won't be able to do the big things in one term, but I'll at least be able to lay the groundwork for project-based learning, for example, for future SMOBs that will allow project-based learning to actually appear in MCPS.

Q: What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A: Some of my biggest strengths are that I'm a really logical thinker, and I do believe that I'm extremely hard-working at least in terms of getting things done. I have a lot of weaknesses, I'm going to be honest, but I'd have to say that my biggest thing is that sometimes, I'm a little close-minded, but I have been working to fix that by working with as many people as possible.

Q: If you are not elected to become SMOB, how will that affect MCPS?
A: I won't be able to directly influence policies, but I will do my best to try to spread the word and make sure the voice of the student body is still heard.

Q: What's one issue that you see that affects high school students deeply and how would you try to solve it?
A: What I see as the biggest issue in high school is the level of stress that students are feeling. Part of that is based on their own family issues, things that as a school, we cannot go too deeply into. But we can fix how we approach teaching our students and minimizing the stress inside of our schools. I believe in decreasing the amount of tests, ideally just removing tests in general, and minimizing stress as much as possible.

Q: What is your message?
A: To my supporters, I'd like to thank you for supporting me. Even if I don't make SMOB, I will still try to have your voice be heard. To my non-supporters, I'm sure you have your own reasons why you're no supporting me, but I encourage you to just go to shitengforsmob.com and read up my policies and see if what I stand for is similar to what you stand for.

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

Q: What is the biggest reason you are running as a candidate?
A: I think the biggest reason for me is personal, as an outsider to this whole political system in Montgomery County. Before I really started my campaign, I was really disconnected and all of my peers. The people I talked to had no idea what MCR [Montgomery County Regional SGA] was. I don't think there was enough communication between the students and the elected representatives, and in a lot of schools there's a disconnect between the students and even their school SGA.

Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: I'm passionate, hardworking, loyal, honest and caring.

Q: Why should you become SMOB as opposed to the other candidates?
A: I think I'm going to give students more of a voice. I'm going to be advocating for more diversity in MCJC (Montgomery County Junior Councils) and MCR, so more students in down county, more minority students, can be heard on the executive board and on the SMOB advisory council. I think I bring a fresh new outlook. I bring energy. I am just a new face, a fresh face and a clear voice for the students.

Q: What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A: My biggest weakness is that I am new to this. I have not been in the political system before, which is also one of my greatest strengths. But I think that in being new and in being a fresh face and an outsider coming in, I've had people say, "What makes you different from Trump?" because he was an outsider as well. I think that in my experience as a student, being with the students and just talking with my peers about these issues, I bring the student's perspective. I'm very social, so I think I have a lot of better communication skills. I'm really good at communicating with adults. I think in the past, we've had SMOBs with really great ideas, but they don't get respect from adults. So, they don't have those four other board members to vote with them on policy changes. I work with adults in my daily life; professionals who have taught me a lot about the differences between the teenager's perspective versus an adult's perspective. I think that having a teenager who understands the adult perspective and is able to communicate with them is one of my greatest strengths.

Q: If you are not elected to become SMOB, how will that affect MCPS?
A: If I'm not elected SMOB, I will run again next year. But I think MCPS will see the same thing over and over again. They will see a candidate who becomes SMOB and won't hear about them after they become elected. I think my fellow candidates are really, really passionate about what they do. They've been in the system so long; they've become old and stagnant. They don't really see the problems, all they see is the SMOB as a position they can put on their college application. I'm the kind of person that can't put anything down on a college application that I didn't pour my entire heart and soul into, and I think that if I'm not elected, that MCPS will really stay the same.

Q: What's one issue that you see that affects high school students deeply and how would you try to solve it?
A: I'm going to talk about issues that are really personal, and those are cyberbullying and mental health. A lot of my friends have experienced this, and I didn't think it as huge of an issue until it actually affected me. I think we need to be more proactive. I think this issue is one that affects all students, because kids use social media so much, and mental health has become such a huge issue in just the last ten years. I think that in seeing me become SMOB, I think bullying and mental health will really rise to become issues that more people talk about. There's a huge stigma around talking about suicide and talking about mental health. I want to close that gap and open up the discussion on suicide to prevent suicide from happening again, just like they did this year.

Q: How will you embrace people who don't agree with you?
A: I think that people who disagree with me are the most valuable people to talk to, because they are the ones who open my perspective and give me a different opinion. I think I'm open minded and I really like to argue with people because having people disagree with me is going to help me grow.

Q: What is your message?
A: I think the most important part about me is that I am a fresh face and I'm new.

Zhao Zheng, Sophomore at Richard Montgomery High School
Zhao Zheng, a sophomore from Richard Montgomery, is running for SMOB. Courtesy of Zhao Zheng
Zhao Zheng, a sophomore from Richard Montgomery, is running for SMOB.

Q: What is the biggest reason you are running as a candidate?
A: I am running as a candidate to promote the wellbeing of students in the county. Over the course of the past couple of years, there hasn't been a lot of change, and I want to change that and bring the change that we the students want to see.

Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: I would say that I am a risk-taker. I am open-minded, resonant and caring.

Q: Why should you become SMOB as opposed to the other candidates?
A: I believe that I should become the SMOB. I don't really see myself as any different from the other candidates, but policy-wise, if I'm elected SMOB, I'll be resonant to the values that we the student body stand for, and I will do everything in my power to put our thoughts and values into action.

Q: What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A: My biggest strength is my ability to connect with others and develop plans. If elected, my biggest weakness will be getting everyone's input into the policies.

Q: If you are not elected to become SMOB, how will that affect MCPS?
A: If I'm not elected SMOB, I will still continue to effect change, like open lunch and mental health. It's possible for me to bring open lunch even if I'm not elected SMOB by talking with community leaders and school administrators.

Q: What's one issue that you see that affects high school students deeply and how would you try to solve it?
A: I believe mental health affects high school students the most. Following the two tragic suicides last year, I honestly want to fight for better legislation about mental health. To change it, it starts at the Board level and sometimes up to the state level. There should be a better curriculum in place for other students to recognize mental health issues, and there should also be training provided to teachers so that they can recognize mental health issues, like depression, in students. Also, I believe that we can hang up more posters telling students that if you see something you should tell a staff member.



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