At home on the school board Student member: Linnea Pagulayan is following in the footsteps of her big brother, with plenty of support from two teaching parents.

June 16, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

She didn't say much at her first meeting Wednesday, but that will change quickly, promises school board student member Linnea Pagulayan.

Linnea, 16, a senior at Westminster High School, knew six years ago that she would be the student representative to the board someday. At the time, her brother Randy had that post.

"We're pretty close, and pretty much most of the things that he did, I followed up on," said Linnea, who was elected to the nonvoting position on the school board by her 150 fellow members of the Carroll County Student Government Association.

Although Linnea has gravitated toward the same interests as Randy, such as tennis and music, she always added her own twist. They both play saxophone, for example, but Randy leans toward jazz and Linnea prefers classical music.

And Randy, 23, was a quiet board member, Linnea recalls.

"I have a bigger mouth than he does," she said.

Her brother agrees. "She has a little more fire for this position than I did," he said. He graduated in December from the University of Maryland and is about to start doctoral work in psychology at the University of Cincinnati.

Considering that Linnea will be speaking for approximately 25,000 students, a strong voice is appropriate, she said. She doesn't, however, want to be the only spokeswoman.

"I think it's really important for students to be given the chance to have their opinions voiced, but I think it's more important for them to know they have that chance," she said. "Some kids don't even try. I think the board cares, but they have to hear from students."

As a middle school student, she wrote a letter to Peter B. McDowell, director of secondary education, that led to attendance of middle school student leaders at Carroll County Student Government Association meetings. She reasoned that the students would be more active participants in high school if they had a chance to start in middle school.

As an eighth-grader, Linnea was Westminster West Middle School's first "moderator," the school's name for student body president.

Her mother remembers campaign meetings Linnea held at home.

"I remember them talking about strategies, where they would put the poster," said Linnea's mother, Aurora Pagulayan.

She watched her daughter and friends unwrap and rewrap hundreds of chocolate kisses, replacing the paper "Hershey" ribbons with strips that said "VOTE FOR LINNEA."

"It was just something we did to get attention, because I wanted to win," Linnea said. The campaign kisses paid off, and she has been active in student government ever since.

At her first school board meeting, Linnea said she was a bit overwhelmed by the long and varied agenda. She listened with interest as board members discussed sex education materials. The materials were voted down because members believed they encouraged sexual activity.

"They were second-guessing what the students would get out of [the sex education video]," Linnea said Friday during an interview. "I thought, 'Why don't you let more students see it? You'd get more feedback. It would be better.' "

She said she refrained from joining the discussion because she had not seen the materials herself.

Like Randy, Linnea wants to major in psychology at the University of Maryland, but in pursuit of a more clinical career. Randy's doctoral work relates to human factors in industrial engineering. Their brother Rally, 27, is an industrial engineer in Calgary, Alberta.

This is a close family, raised by parents who are both teachers. Randy would come home weekends from College Park to help Linnea prepare for a talent show or school project -- as his older brother once did for him.

Olindo Pagulayan has taught math for 26 years at Mount Airy Middle School and will be at Westminster West Middle in September. Aurora Pagulayan teaches in the extended enrichment program for gifted students at elementary schools in Westminster.

Randy said his parents' involvement in the schools gave him a degree of comfort with the system.

"Just knowing that they all knew my mother made it easier," he said. "It's quite intimidating to be a high school student and walk into these board meetings where everyone is wearing a suit and tie. They all thought highly of her, so that made things easier."

School board officials smile when they remember Randy, who had a head full of tousled and gelled hair. He combed it down for the first meeting, he said, but a board member who knew how he usually wore it told him, "Just be yourself."

Randy said he probably also was known for falling asleep during board meetings. At the time, he and others probably thought it was for the same reason others in the room would nod off: the meetings were long and boring most of the time.

But Randy found out later that he was narcoleptic. In spite of the narcolepsy, which sometimes caused him to fall asleep in class, Randy did well in school. He said his involvement in student government and the tennis team kept him on his feet.

Linnea and Randy give their parents credit for instilling in their children the confidence to try anything they wanted, while still setting high expectations.

"They never pressured us or made me feel like I had to be the best," Linnea said. "When we have our successes or do things, it's for ourselves."

Mr. and Mrs. Pagulayan came to Carroll County after master's degree work at Bucknell University in the 1960s. Both are from Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

The emphasis on education is something that comes as naturally to this family as their close relationship.

Mrs. Pagulayan said she and her husband encourage their children to speak directly to teachers and administrators.

"We think it's important not to intercede for them," Mrs. Pagulayan said. "We feel that's how they'll learn to operate outside the home."

Pub Date: 6/16/96

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