Jodi Harmon won't get much sleep between now and Saturday. But that's OK -- resting is not a priority for the 16-year-old, busy juggling books and campaign signs.
In the hours where she's not studying for honors and Advanced Placement classes in physics, history, French 4 and Algebra 3, the South River High junior is managing her campaign to be the first county student to serve on the Maryland Board of Education.
"Even though it's a non-voting position, I don't think you need avote to influence people," Harmon said. "If I can present myself well enough, they will vote the way you say. Ultimately, we need to havea vote on the state board, but it will all come in time.
"If I get the position, I want to represent student views on the Maryland School Performance Program," she said, citing the state program to raiseacademic standards. "They are coming up with an elaborate plan and not getting the students' views. I want to make sure we are heard.
Harmon's chances of being appointed to the yearlong position appear good. Already, such people as county Student Affairs Specialist Steve Barry call it a small victory that she has been selected as one of five finalists in the state. No other county student has ever made it that far -- not so much because none qualified, he said, but because Anne Arundel students prefer to run for the county school board, the only one in the state that gives its student member full voting privileges.
"She's the kind of student every teacher would love to have," Barry said. "She is very bright and personable. The biggest thing is that she is very responsible and dedicated. She may also bring something to the state level, possibly opening their eyes on how well students can perform."
Using the slogan "Bring Harmony to the State Board of Education," Harmon is busy double-checking distribution of her fliers and campaign buttons. She wants to make sure student representatives from every county in the state have heard her name before votes are cast Saturday at Southern Senior High in Baltimore.
"I dowant to make a difference," she said, sounding as if she is campaigning. "I don't want to die with no one knowing who Jodi Harmon is. I want to help others reach their full potential."
To get this far, Harmon has had to submit to a panel interview, write an essay and submit a resume. But that, she predicted, is only a hint of what it will be like facing her toughest critics -- her peers.
The names of thetwo students selected at Saturday's Maryland Association of Student Councils convention will be sent to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who will make the final appointment. The selected student's term begins in July.
Whatever the outcome, the experience won't go to waste onHarmon, who aspires to become a politician or lawyer. Despite all her activities -- which include Student Government Association vice president, National Honor Society member and co-chairwoman of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils -- she still manages to maintain a 3.7 grade-point average.
"I love to be challenged," Harmon said. "I love to be busy. I have a desire to succeed and be thebest that I can be. My parents didn't go to college, and they sometimes ask where it comes from."
But the Riva resident cites a lighter side to her personality.
"I consider myself serious and funny," Harmon said. "I can be extremely academic, almost to the point of being nerdy, or I can be the class clown. I like to tease people.
"My friends joke that occasionally I live up to the cliche about blondes, when I forget to pick someone up or do something like that."
Butlike any smooth politician, she is always thinking of ways to send her message home to voters Saturday.
In the school's cozy Student Government office, she ponders the strict campaign instructions from the state, which forbid stickers of any kind. But she hasn't ruled outsticky candy -- yet.
But with a strong coalition of friends from her school and the county, she expects to make at least a good showing Saturday.
"I want students to vote on who is the best," she said. "This is something that I want to do, and I believe people always do best whenever they are doing something they really want to do."