SMOB finalists selected

Sami Saeed and Yoseph Zerihun are the two finalists for the 46th Student Member of the Board.

Photos courtesy Special Elections Committee of Montgomery County Regional SGA

Sami Saeed and Yoseph Zerihun are the two finalists for the 46th Student Member of the Board.

Richard Montgomery and Springbrook HS juniors Sami Saeed and Yoesph Zerihun were nominated as the two student member of the Board (SMOB) finalists at the SMOB nominating convention on Wednesday, Feb 15 at Watkins Mill HS. WJ sent 14 delegates to the convention, where the field of 12 potential finalists was narrowed down to two, through two ballot rounds using ranked-choice voting. Of the 12 candidates who participated in the race, the field included two sophomores: Praneel Suvarana and Samantha (Sam) Ross. Although both made it through the first ballot round into the final six, neither emerged as a finalist. Had either of them been elected, they would have been the first sophomore finalist since 2016 finalist Richard Montgomery HS sophomore Alex Abrosimov. Saeed’s nomination as a finalist marks the seventh time in the past nine SMOB elections where at least one finalist was from Richard Montgomery HS, highlighting the dominance the school has had on the SMOB election process in the last decade. Saeed’s campaign focuses on mental health, school safety, opportunity gap, environmental advocacy and increasing student representation. One of Saeed’s specific policies would mandate that Montgomery County Regional SGA (MCR) officers be from different schools. Currently, both the president and vice-president of MCR are seniors at Richard Montgomery HS.

I have learned that a great advocate is not defined by what they look like or what their title is, but instead by how much passion and determination one has, and how much effort one puts in, to create the change we all want to see.

— Saeed

Zerihun’s pre-nomination convention was muted compared to Saeed’s, with fewer school visits and social media posts. However, Zerihun took the opportunity to shine at the nominating convention, delivering powerful and persuasive speeches to the delegates.

“Yoseph seems like a very down-to-earth guy (…) people agreed about his goals and views,” delegate and freshman class president Anna Jhon said.

Zerihun emphasized fixing the opportunity gap, expanding mental health resources and solving the opioid epidemic. Zerihun’s policy proposals included more funding for ESOL, LFI (Learning for Independence) and SCB (School Community Based) programs, more school psychologists and initiating a task force to address the opioid epidemic.

“I desire to make sure all stories are brought to light, all students are heard and everyone has a say. The beauty of Montgomery County Public Schools is the diversity that we display. Every single student has a unique story to tell,” Zerihun said.

The SMOB general election will occur on April 19 when all 87,000 middle and high school students will be eligible to vote.