Sixteen-year-old Miecha Werwie held back the tears. But after being named the new student member of the Board of Education, she let go.
More than 300 representatives from middle, junior and high schools throughout the county gathered at South River High School yesterday morning to vote for the one-year seat that comes with full voting rights -- the only such position in the country.
"I'm happy," Werwie said while hugging well-wishers. "I feel veryhappy. I tried to keep myself from thinking about the outcome.
"It's so overwhelming and so personally fulfilling. When you meet set goals you wish you could hug yourself. I want to say to students that I love you guys and I promise to uphold the responsibilities to my greatest ability."
The 11th-grader at Southern High competed against Greg Ondich, a junior at Severna Park High. Ondich, a member of the football team, ran on a platform of representing the entire student body.
"I would have wanted it said of me that I listened," he said.The annual election was conducted by the countywide Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils, of which Werwie is president.
In July, she will replace Kenneth McGill, a senior at Meade High.
"Both are excellent candidates with different but tremendous strengths," McGill said. "It's a tremendous responsibility for a 17- or 18-year-old."
But Werwie said she is up for the challenge. Already herresponsibilities as head of CRASC have left her little time for normal teen-age activities. But she has managed to maintain her 3.0 grade-point average and membership on the school's soccer team.
Werwie,no stranger to school board meetings, regularly gives CRASC reports on issues ranging from pending legislation or school grading policies. In her consistently enthusiastic manner, she said itwill be an easytransition from the microphone used for the public to a seat on the dais with the other board members.
"Since eighth grade, I've been fascinated with the opportunity our county has to be able to make decisions that affect all students," Werwie said. "We're the ones affected by the decisions made by the board. It's always got me so excited to think about that. All my accomplishments have built up to reachingmy goal."
And her accomplishments include being sophomore and freshman class president, a former student government president and a workshop teacher for Future Teachers of Maryland Conference. Her two-page resume lists awards,including the Johns Hopkins Gifted and Talented award, Outstanding Leader award and nominee to the Walt Disney Dreamer and Doer national competition.
Convincing fellow students thatshe was the right person for the job was relatively easy. Campaigning was limited to badges and fliers, and her name seemed to be everywhere.
And confidence in herself was obvious. A note to herself scribbled across the top of her speech cue cards read: "Go slow, you can do it."
"I want people to say that I made a difference," Werwie said. "That she made a difference and wasn't a lame duck. I want to feel I have contributed."