Student on board wants voting rights

July 06, 2008|By Madison Park | Madison Park,Sun Reporter

David John "DJ" Sigworth, a rising senior at Fallston High School, is scheduled to be sworn in tomorrow as the next student representative to the Harford County Board of Education.

The 17-year-old from Forest Hill says he is a political junkie who hopes to study next year in Washington at Georgetown University or George Washington University, and someday, go to law school.

He steps into his new role after surviving a harrowing incident in March last year when he and his three friends were struck by a drunken driver whose vehicle swerved into their lane.

Sigworth took the brunt of the injuries. "I was diagnosed with severe traumatic head injury, which can last for a couple years. It's a lot of headaches and memory loss when you get hit in the head."

During his journey to recovery, he was referred to a neurologist, Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, the renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

"I went to Ben Carson's office, and he set me up with different programs," Sigworth said. "If you ever get in a car accident, Baltimore is a great city to be in. He's the man to go to."

This summer, Sigworth is working as a lifeguard at the Fallston Swim Club and is getting ready to succeed Chase Jackson, who just graduated from Harford Tech, as the student representative.

Sigworth was asked about his plans for this school year.

What are some of your priorities this year?

For years, we've tried to get student voting rights on the board. We'd like to accomplish that. We have a few new ideas, and we're going to fight against school uniforms, which has been rearing its head in our county. We're starting to look at middle-school reform to make sure it doesn't have as much problems as high school reform.

How do you hope to achieve partial voting rights for the student representative?

We'd like partial voting rights. Anne Arundel has student voting rights and there are others that are getting partial voting rights, and we don't want to be left in the dark. Harford County should be a leading county when it comes to education.

Is there pressure to get this done during your term?

The HCRASC [Harford County Regional Association of Student Councils] executive board - we put pressure on ourself. We've been trying for student voting rights ever since Dr. [Jacqueline S.] Haas [superintendent of Harford County schools] was an assistant principal. We have a couple new ways, and we've talked to a few people and senators who are willing to sponsor bills. We're thinking of spending some time in Annapolis lobbying this year. It's way overdue for this to happen.

What are students saying about school uniforms?

HCRASC is taking a firm stance against it. I don't agree with school uniforms. It's not going to help. They say it's going to cut down on crime, but there are no statistics to back that up. It's not going to keep people who don't belong at the school out. It's quite simple for someone to go to Wal-Mart and pick up uniforms.

It's taking away the students' right to wear what they want. There are so many other problems in the school system - the graduation rates, the dropout rates. It's wasting time, and the committee member's time to completely cover up the other problems.

Do students approach you with issues they have at school?

When it was known I was elected to this position, people started coming up more and asking questions like 'Are we getting school uniforms? What can we do to stop it?' Students don't want all the decisions made by adults. They want to take a part and make an impact.

We're getting more used to dealing with the problems with the secondary school reform.

Some schools that didn't have four-periods were not adapting as quickly. Some teachers aren't taking extra planning time to develop full lessons. It's a long 80-minute period, and the teachers only teach for 50 minutes and during that extra 30 minutes, students are bored. Students don't like sitting there for 80-minute periods for subjects they're not interested in. The lunch period is shorter, and you have to sit in class. It becomes quite a hassle, and the learning environment suffers.

How did you get involved with student government?

I've been involved for quite a few years in middle school and high school. I started taking a more active role. I worked from being a homeroom representative to running for vice president. I was elected president as a junior. It's something I believe in and people agreed with my position.

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