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A December recap: SMOB and MCR efforts to address mental health and ESOL issues

MCR student leaders have been working diligently throughout the first few weeks of December. The Executive Board met on December 5. Quickly on the heels of the Executive Board meeting, MCR held a General Assembly at Richard Montgomery High School on December 13.

During the Executive Board, SMOB Matt Post briefly outlined recent initiatives and provided several key updates. He has secured spots on the Fiscal Management Committee and the Policy Committee within the Board of Education and is the first SMOB to hold positions in two separate committees. In the wake of recent Montgomery County student suicides, Post described his plans to institute an action and awareness mental health forum in the county’s schools.

Post is not the sole student representative of MCPS students in a countywide committee; MCR President Michael Yin has also claimed a seat on the Budget Steering Committee, an organ of the MCPS Department of Management, Budget, and Planning. This committee has been historically dominated by the PTA and other representatives.

MCJC president Hana O’Looney also attended the Executive Board meeting in order to facilitate greater dialogue between the two sister organizations.

In the spirit of the quickly approaching holidays, MCR’s Chief of Staff department, headed by Churchill senior Allison Wachen, organized a Secret Snowflake gift exchange between Executive Board members.

Following officer reports, the board split by department so that directors and deputies alike could have an opportunity to plan for the coming weeks. Breakout sessions with smaller groups across different departments provided an opportunity for board members to evaluate past general assemblies. As 2017 quickly comes to a close, MCR is placing an emphasis on increased student interest in GAs across a diverse range of schools.

The GA on December 13 welcomed not only Executive Board members and Montgomery County high schoolers but also many younger attendees. MCJC, or Montgomery County Junior Councils, is MCR’s affiliate student government organization for middle schoolers.

The joint MCR/MCJC General Assembly boasted high participation rates, with more than 400 attendees from schools across the county. Sixth graders mingled with seniors to discuss various policy goals and brainstorm practical solutions to the most prominent issues in MoCo today.

The RM SGA hosted its guests as any good host might; the SGA graciously provided bagels or donuts to students, free of charge, and organized for RM’s talented dance troupe to perform. It was a feat in itself to manage the logistics of the event, but RM did so seamlessly. Schoolwide SGA President Albert Zhang as well as Mr. Mark Brown, Assistant Principal, delivered brief opening remarks.

MCR Treasurer Nathaniel Tinbite spoke on behalf of current SMOB Matt Post to deliver his SMOB minute. Of note, Post will guide a student forum on mental health in the wake of recent MoCo tragedies, which will take place on Monday, January 8, from 6-8 pm at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville.

Among those in attendance were also officers from MASC (Maryland Association of Student Councils). Grace Wu, a senior at RM, is the current president of the organization (which is a statewide student government organization with more than 20 regions). Along with Joshua Omolola and Bryce Awono—vice president and treasurer, respectively—she discussed the three flagship programs of MASC. Students across the county can participate in legislative session, scheduled for February 2, 2018, when the five Maryland SMOB candidates are narrowed down to one.

MCR and MCJC officers discussed their extensive advocacy work within the past month, and introduced Dr. Brice, Associate Superintendent of Family Support and Engagement, to the podium. Dr. Brice spoke on the importance of mental health awareness and development.

Mental health became a timely component of the entire GA; students formed breakout groups to discuss mental health and the ESOL achievement gap. Students were encouraged to share their experiences within their class environments and jotted down ideas pertinent to the entire MCPS community.

Attendees returned to their seats to listen to a round of updates. Robert Wachen, MCR’s PR director, unveiled updates to the MCR website and MCR apparel (which can be purchased online). The department also created a Snapchat geofilter for students to enjoy in their brief time at RM.

SEC coordinator Hannah San-Sebastian stressed the stringency of campaign laws in preserving the authenticity of the SMOB election. Students who campaign for the position prior to the beginning of the filing period in early 2018 will be duly warned and potentially booted from running.

As students filed into buses returning to their schools, they brought with them a wealth of diverse opinions and provocative ideas for advocacy and involvement. MCPS student leaders are gearing up for the new year by continuing to serve on behalf of all MoCo students; a louder student voice can be realized first through broad student engagement in various fronts.

As always, Montgomery County students are all welcome to observe Executive Board meetings, which are held monthly at the Carver Educational Services Center. Permission slips to attend General Assemblies may be found with school SGAs; interested students may also visit to learn more about upcoming events.

Written by Emily Tian

Published by PR Department

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