- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
When Ed Town was singing in his school chorus during the 2011 Huntingtown High School graduation, he noticed there was a high schooler sitting on stage with the Calvert County Board of Education.
Town, who was in ninth grade at the time, researched the role of the Student Member of the Board, or SMOB, and promptly told his parents he would one day fill that role.
On Thursday, his wish came true.
Town was voted into the position after running against Calvert High School junior Isabella Rodriguez, Northern High School junior Rachel Cooper and Patuxent High School junior Sandie Goldstein.
The vote was taken at Northern High School by a consortium of student governments from every public middle and high school in Calvert County. Each high school was given four votes and each middle school was given two. A candidate needed at least 15 votes to win and, initially, a second vote was taken because the vote was considered too close to call between Town and Goldstein.
“I was really excited, but I realized there’s a lot I’ve got to start working on,” said Town, 17, of his win.
The Huntingtown High junior class president and most recent “Lord Calvert” for the Calvert County Fair said he already planned on attending the Calvert County Public Schools budget presentation Thursday evening and would be working closely with current SMOB Christine Lukban prior to being sworn in at a June meeting.
Town said he also is involved in his school’s tennis and bocce ball teams, Special Olympics and Future Business Leaders of America, in addition to being active in his church. Town also serves on the CCPS Citizens Advisory Committee.
At Thursday’s SMOB election, the four candidates gave short campaign speeches and were asked a number of questions from the students in the audience.
One of the questions related to what their major goal would be if elected to the position.
Rodriguez said, as the daughter of a police officer, it would be school safety; Goldstein said it would be mentoring programs; Cooper said it would be reducing bullying; and Town said it would be reducing drug use in the schools.
“You come to school to improve your life. You don’t come to school to get hooked on drugs and ruin your life,” Town said.
Both Cooper and Rodriguez also stated that to prevent student drug use, students could have to pass a drug test in order to play on an athletic team.
“A lot of athletes use them and if they can’t play, they’ll probably stop,” Rodriguez said.
In regard to bullying within the schools, a topic that came up multiple times during the question and answer period, Town said he thought prevention started in the lower grades.
“We don’t have the answer to end bullying immediately,” he admitted. Cooper said she thought bullying stemmed from insecurities, so building confidence was key.
“Even if it’s Post-it notes on the bathroom door that say stuff like ‘You’re beautiful! Smile!,’” she suggested.
The students were also asked what they could do to help students in Special Education programs. Town said he already regularly interacts with Special Education students on unified sports teams.
“I don’t want to exclude anyone. To me, that’s a form of bullying,” he said, saying that the Special Education students with whom he interacted “are probably nicer than I am.”
While both Cooper and Rodriguez promoted “Best Buddies” programs with Special Education students, Goldstein said she’d take it a step further.
“Rather than a separate club for them, involve them in what every student does,” Goldstein said.
The final question, asked by Lukban, asked the students to name one word that described what would make them a unique SMOB.
Rodriguez said “honored”; Goldstein said “comfortable”; Cooper said “connection”; and Town said “legit.”
“I am not a phony,” he said.
Patuxent High School social studies teacher and Calvert Association of Student Councils sponsor Scott Goldstein, who is also the father of Sandie Goldstein, said the questions and answers were the most impressive he had ever heard in the SMOB election.
“I would not want to be you,” he told the student government members prior to the vote.