For two years, Andrea Clark has been trying to open doors for students in Howard County middle schools.
Andrea, a 17-year-old Hammond High School senior and legislative liaison for the Howard County Association of Student Councils, has worked hard to introduce middle-school students to leadership training and involvement in student government.
Getting middle-school students excited about student government doesn't sound like a difficult task, but it is. Local middle schools do not have student government associations because the election of officers would violate the ban on competitive activity imposed by William J. Kerewsky, former director of middle schools.
Three years ago, Andrea attended a leadership workshop at Washington College financed by the Maryland State Department of Education. She returned to the workshop during the next two years to teach middle-school students.
"I'd come across, like, five Howard County students, and other counties like Anne Arundel and Montgomery would have 40 or 50," she said.
"The reason HCASC has been taking so much interest in middle-schoolers is because we feel like there's a step missing in HCASC's growth and development," Andrea said.
The missing step, from the high school students' point of view, is an incoming freshman class with some knowledge of how student government works.
Andrea and current HCASC President Leonard Feldman, who shared the middle-school liaison responsibility in 1989-1990, decided to take their own workshops to local schools in an effort to interest the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
Most of the middle-school principals were reluctant, Andrea said, but Wilde Lake Middle School Principal Jesse Smith agreed to give the high-school students a chance.
The workshop went well. Smith was impressed and told his colleagues, and Andrea and Lenny were able to give workshops also at Hammond and Harper's Choice before the school year ended.
This school year, as legislative liaison, Andrea has worked with school board student associate Charles Scott to present students' viewpoints on issues such as the proposed fund-raising policy and a non-binding voting privilege for the student associate.
Andrea is the daughter of James and Barbara Clark of Columbia. She has one sister, 20. She recently was accepted at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, where she hopes to study English or political science. She plans to be a writer or lawyer.