School board swears in stu­dent mem­ber

North Point ris­ing se­nior wants to pro­vide stu­dent re­sources

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

Da’Juon Wash­ing­ton, 16, a ris­ing se­nior, be­gan his one-year term as stu­dent mem­ber of the Charles County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Tues­day with a swear­ing-in con­ducted by board chair­woman Vir­ginia McGraw.

“I look for­ward to work­ing with the board and im­ple­ment­ing the plans I have for the stu­dents of Charles County,” Wash­ing­ton said fol­low­ing his swear­ing in.

The stu­dent mem­ber of the board gives an opin­ion vote on most mat­ters that come be­fore the board, and is of­ten called on to rep­re­sent the stu­dent body as a whole.

Wash­ing­ton trans­ferred to North Point High School at the start of his sopho­more year from Dr. Henry Wise Jr. High School in Prince Ge­orge’s County.

Wash­ing­ton ap­plied to be stu­dent mem­ber of the

board last year, but did not make the fi­nal three can­di­dates who were pre­sented to the stu­dent del­e­gates of the Charles County As­so­ci­a­tion of Stu­dent Coun­cils, or CCASC.

Wash­ing­ton served as stu­dent li­ai­son for North Point last year.

Un­daunted, Wash­ing­ton ran again this past year. Draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from for­tune cook­ies, Wash­ing­ton gave each del­e­gate a writ­ten prom­ise that he in­tended to keep as stu­dent mem­ber of the board.

“I told them not to open it un­til dur­ing my speech, when I said, ‘OK, guys, you can open it,’ and every one had a per­son­al­ized prom­ise I in­tend to keep,” Wash­ing­ton said. “They were each dif­fer­ent, like, ‘I prom­ise to lead with in­tegrity.’”

Wash­ing­ton won the po­si­tion, run­ning against in­cum­bent stu­dent board mem­ber Pear­son Benson, who was seek­ing a sec­ond term.

“I cam­paigned as a new face,” Wash­ing­ton said. “Pear­son [Benson] did an amaz­ing job last year, but I wanted to make clear that I have new ideas, and I have plans to im­ple­ment those ideas.”

Wash­ing­ton said he’s been in­volved in stu­dent gov­ern­ment since he was in third grade. He said he wants to be a voice for those stu­dents who have ideas, but don’t know how to ex­press them.

“I feel like stu­dents have so many ideas, they just don’t know who to tell, and they’re not out­spo­ken. I’m out­spo­ken, and I like for my voice to be heard,” Wash­ing­ton said.

Wash­ing­ton said that dur­ing his term, he would like to fo­cus on cre­at­ing dis­cus­sion groups to re­duce stu­dent stress.

“I know when I was a new stu­dent, I had a hard time deal­ing with all the stress,” Wash­ing­ton said. “So I want to let stu­dents know they’re not alone, by de­vel­op­ing pro­grams in­clud­ing dis­cus­sion groups. We all go through stress, it’s nor­mal and it’s healthy.”

He said he would also like to work on re­duc­ing the achieve­ment gap be­tween spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion and other stu­dents, and also work closely with the stu­dent li­aisons from each high school.

“The li­aisons are from each school, and they know what each school needs,” Wash­ing­ton said. “I want to hear what each school needs, I want to bring their pro­pos­als to the board, and get the ball rolling.”

In an email, North Point Prin­ci­pal Michael Simms de­scribed Wash­ing­ton as a hard­work­ing stu­dent with a great at­ti­tude.

“Da’Juon is very fo­cused and driven in his quest for knowl­edge. He un­der­stands the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion and how it can pos­i­tively im­pact chil­dren and peo­ple,” Simms said. “He also takes time to col­lab­o­rate with his peers on school re­lated and SGA is­sues.”

Wash­ing­ton also serves in North Point’s mock trial club and as as­sis­tant char­ity co­or­di­na­tor for the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Stu­dent Coun­cils, and takes part in his school’s TAM (Teacher Academy of Mary­land) pro­gram — although Wash­ing­ton said he doesn’t yet know what ca­reer field he wants to go into.

“There’s so much go­ing on in the world — shoot­ings, ev­ery­thing — and I just want to change the world. I have so many dif­fer­ent ca­reer paths and fields that I’m think­ing about go­ing into, but I know God will lead me to the right place,” Wash­ing­ton said.

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