Receive email updates!

Enter your email address to receive new articles by email.

Connect on Social Media

Google +1Youtube

Candidates for the 36th Student Member of the Board of Education

The election season of the 36th Student Member of the Board of Education has begun. This year, four candidates from three different schools will run to become the final two SMOB candidates at this year’s SMOB Nominating Convention. They are Mr. Justin Kim, Ms. Christina McCann, Mr. Richie Yarrow, and Mr. Andrew Zhang. Two final candidates will be elected for the general election in April. The MoCo Student contacted all four candidates to gather their perspectives.

The MoCo Student asked each candidate to give a brief biography.

Justin Kim: no biography submitted

Christina McCann:
Christina McCann has been active in student government since elementary school. She began attending Montgomery County Junior Councils (MCJC) meetings in seventh grade, and this is where she found her passion for advocacy on the county level. In the same year, she testified in front of the Board of Education at an Operating Budget Hearing. In eighth grade, Christina was the SGA President at Parkland Magnet Middle School, and she was awarded the MCJC Presidential Recognition Award.
In high school, Christina became involved with Montgomery County Regional (MCR)-SGA. As a freshman, she served as the MCR Liaison for Montgomery Blair High School. In her position as liaison, she attended all of the MCR general assemblies and executive board meetings. Christina currently serves as the MCR Public Relations General Deputy, where she publicizes MCR through social media, print media, and multimedia. She is also on the SMOB’s Student Advisory Council as a Press Correspondent. In this position she writes many articles about different county events for Montgomery County’s first student-run newspaper, the MoCo Student.

Richie Yarrow:
A dedicated and knowledgeable student advocate, Richie Yarrow has worked closely with the Board of Education and community organizations for years to strengthen the student voice. This past year, Richie led campaigns in support of the Maryland Dream Act and in opposition to the County Executive’s proposed youth curfew, both of which proved successful. This past fall, Richie pushed for greater technology funding from the County Council, an effort that will be realized over the next two years in upgraded technological infrastructure at many MCPS high schools. In addition, Richie has long advocated tirelessly for expanded SMOB voting rights, and his work building community support for voting rights helped get students closer than ever before to this important goal.
With unique experience as a committee chair and officer in the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations (MCCPTA), Montgomery County’s largest nonprofit advocacy group, Richie knows how to work alongside adults as well as students. As President of the Montgomery County Junior Councils (MCJC), Richie advocated strongly for the Middle School Reform Initiative. MCPS needs a SMOB who can bring a strong student voice to the Board of Education. Well-known in numerous organizations for his strong work ethic and his ability to “get the job done”, Richie is now eager to fight for real changes for MCPS’s nearly 150,000 students, and to help build for them a brighter tomorrow.

Andrew Zhang:
Andrew Zhang started school in MCPS in third grade, he was part of the GT program at Fox Chapel Elementary School, and moved to the humanities and communications program at Roberto Clemente Middle School. He started working in the SGA at age of 8, and gradually moved from the school level to the county level SGA—MCJC and MCR. Right now he is a junior at Richard Montgomery High School, and works with different county wide organizations to increase student rights across the county.

Why do you want this leadership position?

Justin Kim: response not submitted

Christina McCann:

I want to serve as the next Student Member of the Board in MCPS, because I believe that I can honestly represent our diverse student body. I attend a very culturally diverse school, and I know the importance of representing every student because each of us is unique. By communicating with many different groups of students in schools around the county, I will gather a comprehensive idea of what the students want as a whole.

Richie Yarrow:

It’s crucial that we have a SMOB who is as responsible, knowledgeable, hardworking, and dedicated as possible. I’ve been working with student governments, PTSAs, and countywide organizations for almost five years now. I’ve seen students make incredible strides for greater rights and representation. Nevertheless, there’s so much more to do. Every day, teachers punish entire classes because of individual students, and set due dates and deadlines on the same day (both violate MCPS policy). Middle school students don’t have cell phone rights. After decades of advocacy, the SMOB still doesn’t have a vote on the operating and capital budgets. We need a strong, experienced SMOB to create the changes that students across the county need.

Andrew Zhang:

I want this position, because with this position, I would have the power to influence the changes that I’ve been working so hard for in the past few years. Changes that students around me have pushed me, have talked to me about, solid changes we can make to the system now. I want to represent the students at MCPS, I feel that I am an adequate leader for MCPS, and that my network would help me to understand issues in MCPS.

Select one issue in MCPS that’s most important to you. Develop a clear description of the issue, your perspective, and strategies you’d take to remedy it.

Justin Kim: response not submitted

Christina McCann:
The most important issue in MCPS is making sure students know their rights. Far too often, students do not know basic rights and responsibilities that they have. I will make sure that schools cover the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, as well as speak to students one-on-one about personal experiences when I had to use my knowledge about students’ rights.

Richie Yarrow:
In terms of a specific policy, I would focus on curriculum. Next year, MCPS will introduce Curriculum 2.0 to fourth and fifth grade and to Algebra classes. Next year’s Board of Education will have a huge responsibility to make sure that past problems with curriculum rollout aren’t repeated. I want to ensure that MCPS introduces curriculum with adequate resources and training for teachers. That means making sure that classes have the right technology and that teachers know what to teach more than a few weeks before they’re required to teach it. I also want to make sure that there are truly advanced classes across the county. For example, many students went to middle schools with only one “advanced” science class for everybody. I believe students learn best when there is curriculum that matches their skills and abilities.

Andrew Zhang:
Maintenance of Effort is a state mandated requirement for MCPS to have a certain amount of money for each student. Our budget comes from county council, and this year we only barely passed MOE by 1%. I don’t support this policy, I think we deserve more and that the state should not penalize us for meeting the requirement. I would talk with other county council members, county and state board of education members, and state legislators, to develop a better understanding of the MOE and from there, try to remove it.

Describe one or more projects you’ve undertaken as a leader. Explain your purpose for initiating the project, and evaluate how well you’ve accomplished the goal.

Justin Kim: response not submitted

Christina McCann:

One project I have undertaken is my Girl Scout Silver Award Project. For this service project, I collected money and provided new school supplies to a 6th grade summer school class. In addition to providing the class supplies, I held a workshop about starting middle school. The workshop included helpful hints about staying organized and communicating well. This is by far one of my favorite projects that I have done, because this workshop was everything that I did not know when I started middle school. I have kept in contact with some of the students, and I still give them advice now that they are in 7th grade.

Richie Yarrow:

I secured MCCPTA’s opposition to last year’s proposed youth curfew, which County Councilor Phil Andrews noted and used to ultimately defeat the curfew. In advocating for expanded SMOB voting rights, I was one of the first signatories to former SMOB Tim Hwang’s youth slate, which endorsed politicians who backed voting rights. I also traveled to PT(S)As across the county, building community support which reversed a vote in the Montgomery County Senate delegation and helped bring voting rights farther than it had ever before gone. This past fall, I met with the superintendent to discuss technology problems and advocated to the County Council for the MCPS technology plan, which will soon upgrade technological infrastructure at over a dozen high schools.

Andrew Zhang:

One of my accomplishments is the successful organization of the first ever countywide Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The highly successful tournament linked the students of Montgomery County through what I like to call “Frisbee diplomacy.”

Why should MCPS students select you as SMOB?

Justin Kim: response not submitted

Christina McCann: While I do have experience and passion, the main thing that sets me apart from the other candidates is my relatable nature. I have worked with many different demographics, and I know how to build productive relationships with others and work in a team to achieve a common goal. As SMOB, I will use my teamwork and communication skills to work closely with other MCPS students across the county.

Richie Yarrow: An SGA devotee for nearly five years, I am the only candidate with experience in the countywide Parent Teacher (Student) Association, MCCPTA, and the only candidate to have addressed the Board of Education, County Council, and state legislators. I am also the only candidate this year to have visited meetings of the Montgomery County Junior Councils (MCJC), which represents MCPS’s 35,000 middle school students. I have met with numerous political leaders while advocating for youth-related bills (including once visiting a state Senator’s house). As an MCCPTA officer, I had quarterly meetings with Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr to discuss budgets and policy changes. I’ve also met with different Board of Education members, including current Board of Education President Christopher Barclay. I care greatly for the students.

Andrew Zhang: I feel that my ability to connect to others easily and openly allows me to act as an effective medium for students spread across the county and the Board of Education. I want to help students to realize the changes we need.

What is/are your favorite book(s), and why?

Justin Kim: response not submitted

Christina McCann:
I have many favorite books—from childhood, like The Giving Tree, to current favorites, like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. However, my all-time favorite book series has remained Harry Potter ever since I read the first book ten years ago. These books have taught me about friendship, bravery, courage, and confidence. I have grown up with the characters and their adventures, and I still laugh at every joke. The Harry Potter series will always have a special place on my “favorites shelf.”

Richie Yarrow:
Books by Kurt Vonnegut, such as Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five.

Andrew Zhang:
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, the book discusses about how human beings respond to different incentives.

One Response to Candidates for the 36th Student Member of the Board of Education

  1. Pingback: Interview with Candidates for 37th Student Member of the BOE |

Leave a Comment