Glen Burnie junior joins school board

Elected post carries full voting privileges

March 16, 2001|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

After a runoff vote, Brandon Van Bibber, a junior at Glen Burnie High School, won a seat yesterday on the county school board - the only student board member position in the state that carries full voting privileges.

The 17-year-old was elected to the post on a second ballot by middle and high school delegates to the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC). The first vote on the four-candidate slate failed to yield a majority.

Van Bibber battled it out in the second ballot against Jeremy Horine, a junior at Broadneck High School.

"I was a little anxious, but I didn't let the pressure get to me," said Van Bibber after learning of his victory.

The other two candidates were Kristina Delaney of South River High School, and Gilbert Schaefer of Chesapeake High School.

Sue Hannahs, CRASC faculty adviser, said the group does not release student vote totals. Two-hundred seventeen delegates went to the polls, held at Old Mill High School.

Van Bibber is scheduled to take his seat July 1 on the eight-member school board, which has three at-large members and four members from General Assembly legislative districts. He will replace student board member Alicia Pettit. The governor will make the final appointment but generally supports student selections.

The county school board is one of two nationwide that gives full voting rights to its student members. California's state board of education follows the same policy, and a New England school district is considering the practice, Hannahs said.

"I think it's good for students," Van Bibber said of the full voting privileges. "They need a direct say in what happens to them and who does what to them."

Van Bibber's school activities include participation on the cross-country, indoor and outdoor track teams, the yearbook club and the model Organization of American States.

Hannahs said the students who voted in yesterday's election appreciate the significance of the student member's role. "I feel it's a very sophisticated electorate," she said. "I think they're very serious about this responsibility."

Merrian Brooks, a delegate and senior at Broadneck High School, said the student member serves an important purpose.

"It's a huge job," said Brooks, 17. "They have the responsibility of making sure that the board of education knows what students' desires and positions are. Sometimes adults don't know what's going on at the student level, even if they try and relate."

Van Bibber said safety in schools and quality of instructional materials - particularly out-of-date textbooks - are on the minds of his fellow students.

Other hot issues in schools include a recent board decision to add another period of language arts in middle schools while eliminating some elective courses and concern about the Maryland Student Performance Assessment Program tests, said delegates.

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