School board swears in student member
North Point rising senior wants to provide student resources
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.