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April General Assembly Recap

The Montgomery County Regional SGA initiated their first in-person general assembly meeting on April 27th, welcoming students from all local SGA’s to attend and partake in voting for incoming regional officers. It was held in Watkins Mill high school's auditorium - affectionately called “the Wolverine’s Den” by Principal Carol Goddard in her introduction for the event. Indeed, the ‘Den’ was bustling with excitement from hundreds of student delegates passionate to represent their schools and vote in the highly anticipated election.

Upon entering, attendees were greeted with open arms from friendly Watkins Mill student leaders and MCR officers at the entrance of the school. For many students, April’s GA held a unique significance- serving as a first opportunity to meet friends and peers from across the county, in-person. Before its call to order by President, Shairee Arora, guests enjoyed an engaging performance from the high school’s Korean-dance group, NOVA.

Next up on the agenda was the introduction of officer candidates, beginning with those running for the secretarial position. Candidates Allison Sweeney, Folashade Epibenu, and Pratiksha (Patty) Das were introduced at 11:15am by current Vice President, Ashley Morales. They gave speeches and participated in a question panel, with questions coming directly from students in the audience and reviewed by SEC deputies.

In their responses, all secretary candidates emphasized the importance of outreach, especially to ESOL and other students from underrepresented groups. With the increase of ESOL students in the MCPS population in recent years, this was a matter of great concern to candidates.

Following, treasurer candidates Anusha Krishnan and Fasil Tefera used the same model for their speeches and answers. During the questioning period, both advocated for publicizing and expanding the grant program to all students, through targeted school visits.

In reiterating an previously referenced idea - ESOL student involvement- through questions, audience members expressed that a prominent concern amongst themselves. Treasurer candidates were asked about specific plans for involvement of ESOL students. Both candidates responded to these unusual questions with basic ideas for promotion of the Language Task Force. They did not reference already-existing language resources available on MCR publications, seeming, almost unaware of them, in ideas to establish ‘new’ projects that followed similar formats.

Afterwards, Michelle Wong and Gretchen Gilmore, the two Vice President candidates, delivered their speeches that emphasized building true representation - with students from all areas and different ages. They were asked one particular question, that current Vice President Morales speculated was meant for treasurer candidates, regarding plans for the grant program/budget. Wong answered that her agenda would emphasize raising such resources; both candidates asserted that increased, targeted outreach was the way to go.

Finally, current President Shairee Arora, also the only Presidential candidate for the coming term, took the stage for her reelection. In her address, she acknowledged the rampant feelings of burnout throughout students of the county- receiving a murmur of general consensus from the audience. She expressed her plans of mitigating this issue through “actively involving students.”

Immediately after Arora’s response segment concluded, a pivot with the agenda was made. Treasurer Maahe Kunvar, moved to amend the agenda to allow MCPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Monfia McKnight to speak to delegates. She expressed her great wish to get feedback from students in her “priority areas” of: building trust and engagement, mental and socioemotional health, equitable teaching and learning activities.

“It’s about knowing and hearing you in the county and in classrooms” McKnight emphasized.

Then, directly asking the audience - “how do you want to connect with me?” McKnight reiterated this interest in being accessible, knowledgeable and to provide students active roles in county activity as stakeholders. This direct questioning provided students the opportunity to “take the mic” in McKnight’s words - to ask her questions and relay opinions.

Many students, including Community Relations Director, Kenny Daniels, did take the mic to advocate for county prioritization of mental health services - especially in-school psychologists and increased teacher training. Although public speaking experiences tend to be nerve-wracking, Daniels said that this was especially because he knew he “was bringing up sensitive topics.” Nonetheless, Dr. McKnight’s “supportive and understanding” reception, in spite of this, was what made him feel “immediately more relaxed” and even “glad” to have “discussed these topics with her.”

Next, voting commenced. Students lined up to cast their virtual ballots, also socializing with fellow leaders during the wait. Finally, at 12:30pm, the 2022-2023 MCR officers were announced to be: Pratiksha Das as Secretary; Anusha Krishnan as Treasurer; Michelle Wong as Vice President; and finally, to the surprise of none, Shairee Arora as President.

To conclude the General Assembly, SGA Recaps and the following items on agenda were striked by Vice President Morales in order to accommodate for the extended time that the meeting took. It was finally adjourned after she took the time to recognize the seniors, commend them, and say farewell to the assembly.

Written by Norah Cruze

Published by PR Department

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