Board rep pushes for a greater voice for students


November 07, 2001|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DAN FURMAN, a senior at Wilde Lake High School, keeps a schedule that would make most adults cringe. He is a member of the school's choir, the Student Government Association, the School Improvement Team, an officer of the Howard County Association of Student Councils, an executive board member of the Maryland Association of Student Councils, and he serves as the student associate to the Board of Education.

Dan, 18, is also an intern for Howard County Councilwoman Mary C. Lorsung. And, he does all this while taking a course load full of advanced placement and gifted-and-talented classes at the high school, where he is on the honor roll.

"My weekdays are completely booked," he said. "There's no time to relax on weekdays. Weekends are not as bad."

Dan said he has known that he wanted to pursue a career in law and government since he was 10. He said he follows national politics and is addicted to watching MSNBC.

As a sophomore, he enrolled in a government and politics class taught at Wilde Lake by Marcy Leonard. "I absolutely loved it," he said. "This was the first time I got to explore my interests in a more academic atmosphere."

When the student associate to the school board resigned halfway through her term during the 2000-2001 school year, Dan jumped at the chance to fill the seat.

"I couldn't imagine a position better suited for what I wanted to do on a student level," he said.

The student associate to the school board is elected by students in grades eight to 11 to serve a one-year term as their representative at board meetings and functions. Dan estimates that he spends 20 hours a week fulfilling his duties to the school board.

"I've created my schedule around board activities," he said. "I go to a host of board functions, attend public hearings, work sessions and meetings between the board and the County Council."

Dan said his top priority is maintaining his grades, followed by his responsibilities to the board. "Being the student associate to the board is educational and, for lack of a better word, amazing," he said. "It gives me the opportunity to represent student concerns and make them heard. Once you present a concern, you have to advocate for it, defend it against arguments and hope that, eventually, the board will vote in favor of it."

Dan is working to change the board's policy regarding the student associate's position. He would like to see the title for the position changed to student member and hopes the board will allow the student an "opinion vote."

"An opinion vote is a publicly recorded vote that will not affect the outcome of the motion," he said. "This is going to give the student member an opportunity to express students' views on every single item that's voted on in public session."

Dan's proposed changes to the policy regarding student representation to the board are on the board's agenda tomorrow evening.

Through his many activities, Dan has made a positive impression on those with whom he works, including Wilde Lake High School Principal John Quinn and Howard County Board of Education Chairwoman Jane B. Schuchardt.

"Dan has certainly been a very active student associate from those I have seen in the past," Schuchardt said. "He's a go-getter. I've been impressed with him."

Red, white and blue

Dr. Carl Segal's photographs of flowers, landscapes and animals in a celebration of the United States will be featured this month at Artists' Gallery in Columbia.

"After Sept. 11, I wanted to do something appropriate in terms of honoring the victims," Segal said.

His exhibit contains photos of the Washington Monument, the American flag and an eagle. "The other photographs in the exhibit are strikingly red, white or blue," Segal said.

A psychiatrist, Segal lives in Longfellow with his wife, Helene. He began concentrating on photography in 1988. "I started trying to document animals in zoos," he said. "I've always been interested in zoos. When I was a boy, I joined the Philadelphia Zoological Society's Boys Club. We came to the zoo every week and presented papers about different types of animals. At the time, I envisioned myself going into a job at a zoo."

Segal's exhibit, titled "Red, White and Blue," runs through Nov. 30. Artists' Gallery is at 10227 Wincopin Circle. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Information: 410-740-8249.

Columbia remembers

The Columbia Association will sponsor a candlelight vigil to remember those who died Sept. 11. The vigil will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday around the People Tree at the lakefront.

Two banners titled "Columbia Remembers" will be posted at the lakefront on which children and adults may write messages or draw pictures that honor the rescue workers at the Pentagon and in New York. Music and brief presentations by local officials are planned.

Residents are asked to take candles to the event.

Information: 410-715-3153.

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