The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Student advocates raise their voices for change

Sophomore+Anna+Jhon+%28left%29+and+senior+Erin+Kim+%28right%29+advocate+for+the+incorporation+of+free+AP+and+IB+Exams+into+the+Montgomery+County+Public+Schools+budget+at+the+County+Council+in+Rockville+on+April+13.
Photo courtesy Anna Jhon
Sophomore Anna Jhon (left) and senior Erin Kim (right) advocate for the incorporation of free AP and IB Exams into the Montgomery County Public Schools budget at the County Council in Rockville on April 13.

When junior Meley Ghermay attended the Summer ILT (Instructional Leadership Team) meeting in 2022 with staff and administrators, she participated in discussions about school policies and procedures. One of the decisions that emerged from the meeting with Ghermay’s suggestions was an hour-long lunch for students to rejuvenate mentally and socially.

Ghermay is one of the student advocate voices that extends beyond classroom walls, reaching platforms and meetings. As many students step forward to address issues and bring about meaningful change, they are committed to student advocacy, representing not just WJ but the broader student community in numerous initiatives.

Ghermay serves as the Cluster Liaison for MCR-SGA (Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association), in addition to being the Class of 2025 President, and has done advocacy work with students across the county. “I have advocated in general for removing the opportunity gap caused solely by a lack of awareness and communication that creates such a disparity in high opportunities. Through this and my position in MCR, I have also supported multiple education policies that have benefited all students at the county level,” Ghermay said.

Sophomore Anna Jhon serves as the Class of 2026 President and the MCR Advocacy Initiatives Deputy. She is also workshop-certified at the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MASC). At the MASC Advance in August, Jhon met student advocates from across the state and learned more about effective advocacy.

“The [Advance] was when I first was able to learn how to present workshops and how I can actually communicate with other students about problems and how the solutions aren’t that hard to grasp. We just need to have more students actually represent us,” Jhon said.

Jhon is currently focusing on advocating for House Bill 960, the Asian American Inclusion bill, through OCA, an AAPI advocacy organization. “Over the last year, I’ve been advocating for sustainability bills and inclusion,” Jhon said.

Senior Erin Kim is the Class of 2024 President and the Student Representation Director of the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Advisory Council. She has testified before the Board of Education multiple times and advocated for free AP/IB exams, longer lunches, more mental health support and a required financial literacy course.

However, student advocates face hurdles in their journey. “The biggest hardship was just feeling unmotivated and feeling like I wasn’t good enough to be presenting. I felt like, ‘Am I really qualified enough to be talking about these bills or advocating?’” Jhon said. Connecting with peers who appreciated her work and vision and seeing the impact of advocacy on others rekindled her motivation.

For Jhon, Ghermay and Kim, advocacy isn’t just about making noise – it’s about ensuring every student’s voice gets heard. It’s about standing up for others, bridging gaps and striving for a better community.

“Student advocacy is so important because it is the gateway into a world of general self-advocacy and advocating for others,” Ghermay said.

Kim challenges the misconception that students can’t make a meaningful impact. “[People] can tend to think that student advocacy is overlooked or that there’s nothing you can achieve as a student. But it’s the complete opposite,” Kim said. “As a student, there’s so much that you can achieve and so many people willing to listen in on your opinion.”

For students interested in getting involved in advocacy, Ghermay recommends joining an organization like MCR, the middle school counterpart MCJC, or any other Montgomery County advocacy organization.

“My advice to any student who wants to become an advocate is to find something you are passionate about changing, even if it is something really small or something that only applies to your school, and to push for it as hard as you can,” Ghermay said. “Advocacy takes many forms, and getting into it is a lot easier than you might think.”

0
0
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Pitch
$775
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Walter Johnson High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Allison Xu, Online Editor-in-Chief
Senior Allison Xu is excited to serve as Online Editor-in-Chief for her third year on The Pitch. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories, playing with her beagle, and spending time with family and friends.
Donate to The Pitch
$775
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Pitch Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *