This article is the second part in a series of individual interviews with the three pre-Nominating Convention SMOB candidates. Candidates were interviewed by MoCo Student MCPS Editor Matthew Zipf and MoCo Student staff writer Kaamiya Hargis.
For the second interview in the series, we spoke with Poolesville High School junior Calvin Yeh about his positions and background as a SMOB candidate.
HARGIS: How did you get started with student government?
YEH: I gave my first shot at student government back in 7th grade, when I ran and was elected to be an SGA class representative. It was a tough election, but partly in jest as I was running against my best friend. Though my friend has since forgiven me for beating them, none of us knew then that this humble election was the beginning of an unbelievable five-year journey.
HARGIS: What stimulated you to continue?
YEH: We are all proud of our school system, and of the education we receive can make all the difference in the lives of our students. The education that I have received in my twelve years as an MCPS student has instilled a sense of loyalty in me. Student government gave me a chance to voice my opinion on the issues that impacted us in school, as well as the county; something that I had previously not known was open to me or my peers.
ZIPF: What issues would you prioritize as SMOB?
YEH: Our next SMOB needs to offer our students the best education and preparation for the future possible in the nation. My platform is centered around several overarching, umbrella issues including refocusing MCPS on the students, individualizing education, and innovatively connecting the students to the Board. I support reforms to bring back the focus onto the success of our students, including educational technology in the classroom, reducing the achievement gap, reduced class sizes, increasing funding for electives, STEM and other specialized education, expediting school modernizations, and public-private partnerships to offer more student internship opportunities.
HARGIS: What drives you specifically? What about you is unique?
YEH: I’m realistic about the challenges we’re facing in Montgomery County. We’re fighting an uphill battle in academic excellence with a tightening budget against countries like China. We’re losing sight of who we are as a county when special interests trample over the interests of our students. Being pragmatic means that I am best placed to bring forth real and lasting solutions. I have an unparalleled record of experience working alongside our SMOBs, with an in-depth understanding of our Board of Education and the state of education in Montgomery County.
ZIPF: Many SGA members are motivated to run by their résumés — are you different from candidates like that?
YEH: In faith, it’s an early trend for some people to run or office based on their personal resumes but I think that you’ll find that people who have been actively involved and driven on the student government scene for nearly five years aren’t motivated by resume-building. I’m running for SMOB to make a difference, and to offer the students of Montgomery county a focus on real solutions to the myriad issues that they face every day.
HARGIS: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
YEH: Driven, innovative, problem-solver.
[End of interview.]
Our experience with Calvin proved him to be just as open and thorough as he has promised to be — his plans for SMOB are well-formulated and forward-thinking.
With three students in the running for SMOB, one candidate will not make it through the Nominating Convention and into the general elections, in which all MCPS middle and high school students vote.