By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun
4:14 PM EDT, April 18, 2013
Even after placing her name in the running to become the next student member of the Anne Arundel County school board, Broadneck High School junior Else Drooff wasn't certain she wanted the job.
In fact, she said so during her campaign speech.
"Up until that point, I've always done a little bit of everything," said Drooff, a four-time recipient of the Carson Scholarship Fund Award, an honor given to students who maintain good grades while being active in their communities.
Initially, she said, she was reluctant to make a commitment to the school board but "realized that this is something that I really wanted to put all of my time into. ... I wanted to do just this job."
Members of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils deemed her well-suited for the job, naming Drooff as the student board member for the next school term. She beat out finalists Scott Lanoue of Broadneck High and Wilglory Tanjong of Arundel High School. The association's recommendation will be sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who appoints board members.
Drooff would become the 40th student member of the school board. Many other counties have student members, but officials say Anne Arundel County's is the only panel where the student member has full voting rights.
"I want to do my job, and that's to bring the student perspective," Drooff said. "We do have a unique perspective about a lot of different things. Maybe I'm not going to voice my opinion as much with the budget, because that's something that's new to me. That's something I'm learning more about. But things like social media, or academic honesty, those are things I deal with every day.
"I'm a kid, so I'm pretty open to social media in schools, but I recognize there are some safety concerns there," she said.
Drooff said shortly after deciding to run, she began attending board meeting and reading the board handbook and profiles of current members. She said she gained considerable knowledge about the panel from current student board member Nick Lefavor of Old Mill High School.
She expects to draw from leadership experience she gained while serving as class vice president at Broadneck High. She also served as president of the National Junior Honor Society when she was an eighth-grader at Severn River Middle.
"I was actually the first female, which was really cool," said Drooff about the National Junior Honor Society post. "It was weird that they hadn't had a female yet.
Drooff said that was her first introduction into educational policy. She took advantage of it, inviting then-state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick to one of the group's events as a guest speaker.
"She's a wonderful young woman," said Broadneck Principal David Smith. "She's bright, she's energetic, she's a hard worker and she is going to bring a lot to that board.
"I think it is great that Anne Arundel is the only county in the nation to give students give full voting rights. I think she will take that responsibly very seriously, and she'll bring the student voice to the board in a real and meaningful way."
Drooff echoed the sentiment that full voting rights makes her unique among students who play a hand in crafting school district policy.
"And I don't want to just vote for students," Drooff said. "I also realize I want to represent all taxpayers. There's a difference between a perspective and then who you're actually representing."
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