Final elections to be held in April
Delegates from countywide middle and high schools nominated Junior Sebastian Johnson as one of the final two candidates for the 28th Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) on Tuesday, March 15, 2005. He will be running against junior Nadia Sicard from John F. Kennedy High School during elections held on April 26 and 27.
Seven candidates participated in a two-part nominating convention held at Northwest High School. The candidates included Andrew Breiner of Gaithersburg High School, Adam Danoff of Quince Orchard High School, Sam Delinger of Gaithersburg High School, Eric Kay of Wootton High School, Edwin Kisiel of Northwest High School, Johnson and Sicard.
Every high school is permitted one delegate per 200 students enrolled as of Sept. 30, 2004. Blair, with the largest population in the county, sent 19 out of the 279 delegates at the convention. Each of the 19 delegates agreed to consensus voting and listed Johnson as first choice and Sicard as second. Johnson and Sicard were the only two candidates representing down-county schools.
According to delegate junior Nina Yang, although Sicard is a strong competitor, the choice to support her candidacy reflects Blair's genuine desire for a board member who will represent the down-county voice. "[Sicard] is well-liked and will be tough competition, but it's nice to know that no matter who is elected, our opinions will be heard," she said.
One of Johnson's top priorities is to speak for students whose opinions aren't normally heard by the board. "I want to advocate down-county representation and address problems with overcrowding, gangs and drugs," he said.
Before the first elimination round, each candidate delivered a speech, and a formal question and answer period was conducted by Montgomery County Regional (MCR) President Jason Pate who presented topics prepared by the Special Election Committee of MCR.
After three candidates were eliminated, the final four students took part in a second informal question and answer period, this time addressing inquiries from delegates in the audience.
The matters discussed included double A exemption, lower eligibility requirements to participate in athletics and standardized testing. Although both Johnson and Sicard support double A exemption, Johnson does not feel that there are not enough resources to allow for a change in this policy to occur in the near future. "We should focus our time and energy in other areas," he stated. Additionally, Sicard and Johnson support lowering the eligibility requirement to participate in extracurricular activities and athletics. Both Johnson and Sicard oppose standardized testing, and neither support making the HSAs a requirement for graduation.
Johnson is running on a platform that emphasizes equal opportunity for all students, including those enrolled in ESOL and special education programs. Sicard's campaign stresses an improved support network to ensure student success.
Johnson is currently SGA President. Sicard is currently Public Relations Coordinator. Johnson has been Parliamentarian, MCR County/State Lobbying Coordinator and SGA President at three different levels: middle school, freshman class and high school. Sicard has participated in Kennedy's Leadership Training Institute for three years and attended several Board meetings.
Whether or not Johnson wins in the upcoming SMOB elections, he will not run for SGA President for the 2005-2006 school year. "I think I've been President long enough," he said. "New ideas would be good for the organization."
SGA officials who have worked closely with Johnson support his ambitions. "He clearly understands the different interpretations between students and administration," said SGA sponsor Rondai Ravilious. "He would be able to accurately relay information between students and the Board."
Student Board members are given equal voting rights with exception to issues dealing with the budget, school closings, boundaries and negative actions toward certificated personnel. However, they can participate in open discussion about these subjects and introduce legislation.
"Meet the Candidates" videos will be taped on March 21 and aired in April.
To learn more about the candidates, click here.
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