PB’s Graham Running for SMOB Seat

Sophomore Hopes to Make Final Ballot in April

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PB’s Graham Running for SMOB Seat

Paint Branch sophomore Val Graham has entered the race for Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB).

Paint Branch sophomore Val Graham has entered the race for Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB).

Paint Branch sophomore Val Graham has entered the race for Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB).

Paint Branch sophomore Val Graham has entered the race for Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB).

Jennifer Johnson, Staff Writer

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Meet Paint Branch’s own Val Graham, a candidate for Montgomery County’s Student Member of the Board, otherwise known as SMOB. The SMOB is elected by students from all the middle and high schools in Montgomery County, and serves as a voting member on the Board of Education. As a voting member of the Board, the SMOB is expected to provide an informed student viewpoint on educational issues, with the possibility of writing legislation, and the right to participate in discussion.

Val, a sophomore at Paint Branch, has been a Girl Scout for the past eleven years, participates in Model UN, and Debate, and is a member of the varsity softball team. She has been able to balance these activities, all while conducting what she feels to be “an incredibly laborious and intense campaign.”

Although Val is younger and has less leadership experience than the several other students who have thrown their hat into the ring for the SMOB position, she is confident that she is equally as qualified to serve the county. She notes that part of her qualifications revolve around her passion to take responsibility for making change wherever it is needed.

She esteems Montgomery County as being “one of the best school districts in the country,” but acknowledges the inequality in school funding and the crumbling infrastructure which affects many students’ ability to learn.

Val expresses her strong belief that if Montgomery County’s Board of Education can’t provide equal educational opportunities to all students, they have “failed in all of their endeavours.”

Val’s main policy goal is addressing the “opportunity gap” in the county. She notes that certain schools either have less or more access to the latest technology and textbooks than others, and fundraising opportunities vary widely because of the diversity in demographics and socioeconomic status in Montgomery County. Val plans to encourage the county to take into account the outside funding of schools when allocating funding for schools every fiscal year to fill in the gaps from school to school.

The candidate believes that the position of SMOB, especially in Montgomery County, ensures that the sitting members on the Board recognize the voices of the county’s students through one voice – the SMOB – who speaks for all of them. The intensity of Val’s campaign and the uncertainty of winning has not deterred her confidence that she is the right person for the position, and feels that regardless of whether she wins or loses, she will be back next election to ensure that the students’ voices be heard.

Val’s next step is the SMOB Nominating Convention, which will take place on February 20th. During the convention the number of candidates will be narrowed down to half in the primary ballot. The final two candidates will be nominated in the second or preferential ballot, which occurs on the same day.

Finally, general elections will take place on April 24th at every middle and high school, with early voting five to six days prior, and I – along with Val – hope to see her name on the ballot.

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