Aliza Saunders and Claire Silberman
April 24, 2017
UPDATE: After voting took place on April 26th, Anna Selbrede was elected as the 2017-2018 Student Member of the Board.
On April 19th, the Howard County Association of Student Councils hosted a forum to showcase both of the candidates for Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB). The Raider Review covered the event. Here is a rundown of our prospective SMOBs for the 2017-2018 school year. Voting will occur on Wednesday, April 26th during school.
Anna Selbrede, River Hill junior and 2016 Student Member of the Board (SMOB) candidate, has been campaigning for the last several month on a comprehensive platform: student representation, school atmosphere, and communication.
Throughout her campaign, Selbrede has visited each middle and high school at least once, with the strong conviction that it is crucial to understand the student body to effectively represent the students’ beliefs. Selbrede plans to implement a SMOB Advisory Council, a group representative of the study body with students of all ages and backgrounds that will meet monthly to discuss their thoughts on the upcoming legislation.
“That will let me meet with students one a month so I can get their input on what I’m about to vote on right before I vote,” she said. Selbrede plans to continue visiting middle and high schools whether it be at lunch or during assemblies.
Selbrede is a passionate advocate for a positive school atmosphere, including mental health awareness, inclusion, and diversity “I think something really important to me is mental health and what is going on with students, especially right now with stress happening in our schools,” she said. Selbrede’s brother battles with depression, so Selbrede understands first hand what students with mental health issues go through regularly. She believes the best way to inform both students and teachers about mental health is through awareness.
“If I could magically create legislation it would be to help with more awareness,” she said. “Where if my brother emailed a teacher and said ‘I need another day for this assignment,’ the teacher will understand and be able to help him with that.” Additionally, Selbrede believes that the School Board should provide resources to all school to help progress diversity throughout the school system. While the SMOB would not be able to suggest any new legislation, Selbrede plans to utilize social media to promote these agendas. Selbrede applauded Griffin Diven, the current SMOB, who uses twitter to promote diversity, specifically with a letter on the racist events that occurred earlier this year.
Selbrede spent an entire year researching the Health and Wellness Policy (9090) for her Independent Research project.
“I actually enjoyed looking at this policy, reading it, understanding how it works, and then analyzing how they theory turned into implementation,” she said. “As SMOB you have to do a lot of reading and a lot of analysis. I am really looking forward to understanding more; not just on the wellness policy but on more policies as they come up.”
She believes that the controversy that revolved around the Wellness Policy was primarily based on the lack of communication between the school board and the school administrations and between the school administrations and parents. If Selbrede is elected, she plans to increase the communication between all sects of the school system by encouraging principals to send out announcements to students via Canvas, opening the Board of Education website to comments, encouraging students to message her with concerns via Twitter and Instagram. She plans to send out a newsletter after each board meeting that outlines what was voted on and how it affects students.
Selbrede not only has a plan set in place if she is elected, but she also is extremely qualified for SMOB with various leadership positions throughout her high school career. Selbrede served as the 2016-2017 SGA Executive Board President of RHHS, planning homecoming affairs and organizing various projects including a coat drive. Additionally, Selbrede serves as the Co-Chair of Legislative Affairs for the Howard County Association of Student Councils and interns with State Delegate Trent Kittleman.
If elected, Selbrede will offer her utmost expertise and passion, driving her to implement change across Howard County.
Libby Milano, a junior at Mount Hebron High School, is running for Student Member of the Board (SMOB) on her stellar track record of student leadership and community involvement. At the SMOB candidate forum on Wednesday, she painted herself as a knowledgeable, clear communicator with a passion for representing others.
Active in her student government since 6th grade, she has worked on numerous policy initiatives and learned the importance of collaborative leadership. An active member and the youngest ever president of the Howard County Association of Student Councils (HCASC), she took a leadership role in discussions on issues such as school start times, nutrition policies, race relations, and the dress code.
“I genuinely believe that students, whether they’re involved in leadership activities or extracurriculars or not, want to improve their school environment and experience in Howard County everyday, but a lot of times they don’t know how or they don’t know where to begin,” she said. Libby wants to make the SMOB available through school visits, so she can gain student input in order to advance the student voice at the Board of Education.
Over the course of her work in the county, Libby has developed a network that would certainly benefit a SMOB tenure. Endorsed by the former SMOBs of Howard, Montgomery, and Charles County, Libby has worked closely with past student leaders and plans to expand on their successes in Howard County if elected SMOB. Libby plans to borrow a strategy from endorser and former Board of Education member Larry Cohen, by delivering updates on new policies via the morning announcements.
“In the past two weeks I’ve sent a video to each and every middle school to be read on their announcements, and I think that’s a great way to reach students.”
Furthermore, Libby wants to host town halls to discern student opinion, deliver letters informing students on upcoming votes, and encouraging direct interaction between students and the Board of Education. “I think it’s important to empower students to share their experience and their ideas. I want to let students know that if they email the Board of Education, the board is legally required to read it.”
Libby hopes to bridge these communication gaps. She wants to represent the student by helping them help themselves.
“Using my platform to make sure that students are aware of how they can get involved and how they can have an impact before these policies even reach their schools is very important.”
For Libby, representation is key. Already, there is a survey up on her website where students can share their top issues and ideas for school improvement. Having worked on a policy review committee herself, she is familiar with the nuances of legislation. Together with other students, she worked on naming HCPSS’s newest middle school: Thomas Viaduct.
Additionally, she wants to develop relationships between students and administrators and staff in order to allow them to make changes in their school.
“When we were dealing with the issue of the racial video that came out at Mount Hebron High School, and we began to have student voice circles, our principal was a part of those discussions. I think that’s a positive example that could easily be mirrored in all of our high schools and middle schools.”
When asked for a word to describe herself, Libby replied: “Determined. When I set my mind to do something, it’s going to happen. When I was in sixth grade I decided that I was going to run for student member of the board and my determination got me there.”
Libby exemplifies professionalism and maturity. Throughout the forum, Libby greeted every question with a friendly smile and excellent presence. Her strong communication skills and passion for student representation make her a compelling choice for SMOB.