Throughout the course of 12th grade, seniors begin to turn 18, entering a brand new phase of life that entails filling out your own forms, carrying IDs everywhere and this country’s greatest privilege – voting.
However, while seniors begin to look at presidential candidates for the 2020 election, they tend to overlook another chance to exercise their right to vote: the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) election.
While students have been voting in the SMOB election since sixth grade, not everyone has taken it seriously. “Ever since the very first SMOB election I haven’t found myself going out of my way to research candidates because I never thought they were able to do anything that directly affected me as a student,” senior Stephanie Povich said.
Although students share the opinion that SMOB is just a placeholder title that does not have full privileges in the Board of Education, the MCPS policies point toward the contrary. “The SMOB can vote on matters related to collective bargaining, capital and operating budgets and school closings, reopenings and boundaries, but not on negative personnel actions. Montgomery County is one of two counties in Maryland to give this position full voting rights,” according to MCPS.
The SMOB election, along with any student government exercises, can be a good way to encourage higher voter turnout and interest at a younger age. Because there is such a large proportion of young people under the age of 18 in this country (nearly 70 million), it is vital that good voting habits are established earlier on, something that a lot of school systems do not do. The 1999 New Millennium Report, issued by the National Association of Secretaries of State, found that “55 percent of youth agree that the schools do not do a very good job of giving young people the information needed to vote”.
By the second semester of senior year, 12th graders are notably checked out and have their eyes locked in on graduation with no attention paid toward other things, including high school politics. Nevertheless, it is important to press on for the sake of future MCPS students. “We should take the time to slow down and appreciate what opportunities we’re given to look out for the future wellbeing of a school that’s done so much for us. I know a lot of people not graduating that I would want to be in good hands,” senior Michael Pugh said.
SMOBs have just as much power to enact change in MCPS as all the other members of the Board of Education, due to their equal voting rights. “While we don’t hear about it as much as we would like, SMOBs aren’t just doing nothing. They have the potential to make some real changes that would benefit the future of MCPS, which is something that I can get behind, even if I’m not going to be here,” senior Dylan Horkan said.
It is too often that seniors want to end their high school careers abruptly in the hopes of something better. It is important, though, to soak up all the opportunities that are presented no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. From the SMOB election to AP exams, experiences should be taken advantage of so that people can look back and be proud of themselves for finishing high school strong.