Silver Chips Online

SMOB candidate Q & A

Get to know the candidates for 2010 Student Member of the Board

By Katie Sint, Online Managing Editor
March 16, 2010
It's that time of year again. Students across Montgomery County will make their voices heard on Election Day when they vote for their next Student Member of the Board (SMOB). But before they can step into the voting booths, they'll have to get to know the candidates on the ballot. If you've been wondering what major changes the candidates want to make, or more importantly, what their true feelings on the Snuggie are, this Silver Chips Online Q & A has got you covered.

Junior Nick Maggio and sophomore Alan Xie are running for Student Member of the Board (SMOB) 2010. Courtesy of MCPS
Junior Nick Maggio and sophomore Alan Xie are running for Student Member of the Board (SMOB) 2010.
Meet your 2010 SMOB candidates, Richard Montgomery sophomore Alan Xie and Damascus High School junior Nick Maggio.

Q: What are some qualities that make you a good SMOB?

AX
1. Involvement and experience. On a regular basis, I interact with representatives of MCR-SGA (county-level student government), representatives of MASC (state-level student government), SMOBs of other counties and members of the Maryland General Assembly. Currently, I serve as a Special Programs Coordinator on the MCR-SGA Executive Board and I manage workshops at General Assemblies. I also serve as a councilmember on the Maryland Youth Advisory Council and am on the Legislative Committee, which is chaired by Prince George's County SMOB Edward Burroughs.
2. Time management. SMOB would definitely be my top priority because representing your interests is my priority. I will effectively manage my time because I realize that things must get done to ensure your quality of education. Nothing's more important than that.
3. Enthusiasm and understanding. I've been a student of MCPS my entire life. I can't emphasize how important this school system is to me. I've gone to school in places throughout the county and I've seen MCPS from multiple perspectives. As SMOB, I will never forget where how lucky I am to come from a county where the students can have such a powerful influence on important issues.

NM
Some qualities that I will bring to the board table are experience, dedication and determination to make our education the very best it can possibly be.

Q: What are some of your weaknesses and how are you planning to work through them?

AX
I've been called demanding and stubborn because I try too hard and refuse to yield, which could be detrimental in political negotiations. Through self-introspection, I will take a critical eye to myself to take advantage of this weakness and make it an asset in our unyielding fight for what we deserve in our budget.

NM
I sometimes find myself taking on many responsibilities and trying to handle them all by myself. If elected SMOB, I would work to modify the SMOB 2.0 Initiative in a way that would allow a distribution of tasks and would promote others to take a more active role in their education.

Q: What is your most important goal as SMOB?

AX
Those blizzards were great, but they worsened our budget crisis. Now we're facing an even bigger deficit of around $761.5 million, and Councilman Andrews of the County Council has said that there's no way our budget will be fully funded. As SMOB we must preserve all of the programs that are necessary to our education. Programs that aren't vital that siphon our valuable resources must be eliminated. However, the SMOB needs additional voting rights to have a voice on the budget. Even now as a candidate, I'm actively fighting for full SMOB voting rights so that our next SMOB can fully express our concerns.

NM
My main goal if elected SMOB is to improve education in MCPS, despite the economic situation we are in. I feel as though we cannot become complacent, but rather become more motivated to initiate positive change and improve the standards of education in Montgomery County.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes you want to make as SMOB?

Richard Montgomery sophomore Alan Xie, who was elected 33rd SMOB, meets with Edward Burroughs, Prince
George's County SMOB and Yoonjin Min of the Maryland Association of
Student Councils (MASC). Courtesy of Xie
Richard Montgomery sophomore Alan Xie, who was elected 33rd SMOB, meets with Edward Burroughs, Prince George's County SMOB and Yoonjin Min of the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MASC).
AX
I'm against the unfair LC policy; fortunately, it's being rescinded as of next year. This is a huge accomplishment that we've been working towards for a really long time. On a separate note, a lot of students really want to get open lunch privileges and iPod/cell phone rights at lunch. MCPS Policy JEF-RA (on the MCPS website) describes how students can get open lunch. As SMOB, it'd be a priority to work with school SGAs to get open lunch at every high school. On top of that, I'd like to make cell phone/iPod policies consistent. I know that some schools let students have electronic devices at lunch or in the hallways between classes, but others don't. This isn't fair and we can't withhold this privilege from some students while giving it to select others.

NM
There are three main goals that I look to achieve. One: To increase accountability, both with the budget and inside our classrooms. Two: To increase consistency, with both our grading policy and with our disciplinary action. And three: Work to benefit students directly with a new online course registration, the funding of after school programs, and actively advocating for other student concerns.

Q: What would you have done differently from the current SMOB, Tim Hwang? What changes of his would you keep working on?

AX
In all honesty, I would change the music playing in Tim's YouTube videos. I don't see much to change because Tim's done a fantastic job so far. He's definitely changed the system by increasing student advocacy and fighting for our budget, especially with SMOB 2.0. But whenever I attend meetings, I'm bothered by the fact that I never see any new faces. A lot of our student government organizations don't accurately represent the county, and I plan to expand Tim's SMOB 2.0 into a larger council with students from every middle and high school through SGA communication. I definitely want to involve more middle school students.

NM
Tim has done an excellent job as for us as SMOB this year. As his High School Communications Director for the SMOB 2.0 Initiative, I know what areas we need to address. The SMOB 2.0 Initiative was a great start, a great first step, but I plan on taking it to another level. I plan on making the structure of SMOB 2.0 more concrete by making sure that we have representatives at each and every school. From here, I can get a better understanding of what is going on inside each school and can enhance communication among my constituents.

Q: Why are you running for SMOB?

AX
For all my life, I've attended school in different areas of the county. I've seen firsthand the diversity and potential of our students. There's no county that can match ours, and we need to maintain our high standards during this budget crisis. I can lead our county through this perilous ordeal with my experience, innovation and expanded communication. We need to realize the potential and influence of our students because only when we're united can we fight for and attain what we deserve.

NM
I'm running for SMOB because I know how powerful the students of Montgomery County are and I know what we can accomplish if we work together. I believe that I can lead this movement towards a better education, even during the present budget crisis. That is why I am running for SMOB, to improve the standards of education and to work tirelessly for all of you, the students of Montgomery County.

Q: If you were a Winter Olympic athlete, what sport would you compete in? Why?

AX
A lot of my friends have been going crazy over J.R. Celski, Kim Yu-Na, or Shaun White. But I'd want to try half-pipe snowboarding. Whether you love him or hate him, Shaun White's simply amazing because he's done so much for the sport. Plus it's ridiculously awesome to pull tricks that high up in the air.

Damascus High School junior Nick Maggio is running for SMOB 2010. Courtesy of Maggio
Damascus High School junior Nick Maggio is running for SMOB 2010.
NM
If I were a Winter Olympic athlete, I would compete in cross-country skiing. Next year, by all accounts, will be one of the toughest years MCPS has faced in a long time and none of our problems will go away overnight. I will bring the endurance it takes to fulfill all the responsibilities of SMOB and to get us through our current problems, much like a cross-country skier must do during the competition.

Q: If you could be anyone in the world right now, who would it be and why?

AX
Myself. With everything going on, I don't have any personal time. If I did, I'd go base jumping. Flying is my favorite superpower. The Alps sound nice.

NM
Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. If I were either of them, I could take a fraction of my net worth and dig MCPS out of this budget hole, fixing most of our problems.

Q: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

AX
Out of college and graduate school. Nothing is ever set in stone. I've got my future outlined but it's definitely not certain. "May you find what you are looking for." (I saw that in a TV show, not a fortune cookie.) So would that be a curse or blessing? I want to live in New York City and win an Oscar for Best Original Score.

NM
In 2020, I see myself working hard at whatever I'm doing. I see myself, by 2020, as a college graduate and pursuing an occupation in business, which is what I plan to major in.

Q: What should people think when they see your name in the voting booth?

AX
When students look at my name while they vote, I hope they'll vote for me because I'll advocate their policies every step of the way and I have the ability, innovation and experience to do so. On top of that, in Chinese, my middle name is "love" and my last name means "thanks." Much love and thanks to everyone who's supported me!

NM
When people see my name, Nick Maggio, in the voting booth, I want them to think three things. One: "Nick has proven through his experience in student advocacy over the course of six years, that he processes the dedication and commitment to the students of MCPS that is needed in a SMOB." Two: "Nick has an outlined plan of action, a detailed platform on which he is running and will use that platform to represent me." And three: "With Nick Maggio as my SMOB, I feel comfortable that my opinions will be well represented and our education will grow stronger even in these financial circumstances."

Q: What is your favorite movie, book, band/musician, color, food, TV show?

AX
Movie: 500 Days of Summer
Book: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Musician: Anything from Warped Tour or Lollapalooza bands to Hans Zimmer's "Pirates of the Caribbean" score, Michael Giacchino's "Up" score and Top 40 Radio. I've got diverse interests.
Color: Something outspoken. Shades of purple and light green or blue.
Food: Robeks smoothies
TV show: Psych (I never get his references), Greek, Community, Dollhouse

NM
Movie: It's a Wonderful Life
Book: Faster than the Speed of Light by Joan Magueijo
Musician: Bruce Springsteen
Color: Navy blue
Food: Chipotle Burrito
TV show: The Office

Q: How do you feel about the Snuggie?

AX
Well, the Snuggie looks silly and seems impractical but I'd have to say it would come in handy on one of those days when I just need to sleep and relax. A mental health day.

NM
Although I don't own a Snuggie, I know many people that do. Many of my friends that own a Snuggie seem to really enjoy what it has to offer. But, the creation of the Snuggie represents more than just a blanket with sleeves. There is much to be learned from its creators. In Montgomery County, now more than ever, we need creative people (like those who came up with the Snuggie) to work together and find innovative solutions to solving our budget problems.

Q: What is your hidden talent?

Xie at the Awards Ceremony for the 2010 MASC Convention held
in Ocean City, Md. Courtesy of Xie
Xie at the Awards Ceremony for the 2010 MASC Convention held in Ocean City, Md.
AX
I really wish my talent was flying, but that's probably not going to work out. I'll settle for Wolverine's powers then. He can't die. In real life, I'm actually a prestigious illusionist. I'm also a leader. My real talent is that I help others find their talents.

NM
When I have the time, I'm pretty good at playing old, classic video games.

Q: What is your favorite place in the world?

AX
Do people make a place great? I think they do. They make things meaningful. I've always wanted to lie down in a field next to a lake and stare at the clouds. Or gaze down into a valley from a meadow at the top of a mountain. Any place in the world can be meaningful and great - you just have to see the magic that's inside it. Kind of like with people.

NM
New York City. I grew up in northern New Jersey, close to New York, before moving down to Maryland in the summer of 2000. We used to go into New York City often when I was little, and I have such fond memories of it. Now that I'm older, I have a stronger appreciation for the city and enjoy visiting even more.

Q: In 10 words or less, describe why we should vote for you

AX
Neither slob nor snob, I'm dedicated to be your SMOB.

NM
Through experience and dedication, I will effectively represent your interests.

Q: How upset were you when you heard Oprah was ending her show?

AX
I'm kind of disappointed I never got to be in the studio audience. But it's been 25 seasons (according to Wikipedia, anyways) and the Oprah effect lives on. She'll probably get her own network, so that's cool beans. She doesn't need the show to be a philanthropist or do good things.

NM
Personally, I wasn't overly upset. I've only seen the show a handful of times, so I don't have the strong tie to the show that many other Americans do. However, I do feel bad for those around the country who watch the show daily. I would be very upset if NBC were to cancel "The Office," so I could imagine what Oprah's viewers are going through.

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