Students Baba Cissé and Arvin Kim finalists for the Montgomery School Board

The two finalists will be Montgomery County School Board student members Arvin Kim, left, and Baba Cisse, right, with current student council member Hana O’Looney center.

The next student member of the Montgomery County School Board will come from Walt Whitman High or Albert Einstein High.

During a nominating convention this week, representatives from every middle and high school in MCPS reduced the number of nominees from 16 to two. Students will vote in an election on April 20.

The finalists are Arvin Kim, a junior from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, and Baba Cisse, a junior from Albert Einstein High School.

The winner will be the 45th student member of the school board and will succeed Richard Montgomery Senior Hana O’Looney.

O’Looney was predeceased by another student of Richard Montgomery, Nick Asante.

The student council member in 2019-20 was Nate Tinbite, a student at John F. Kennedy High School. Before him, another Richard Montgomery High School student, Ananya Tadikonda, held the position.

The last time a Whitman student was elected to the school board was in 1996, when Rachel Prager was elected, according to MCPS records.

Einstein has not had a student elected to the council since 1993, when Carrie Baker was elected.

Cissé is the vice-president of his class at Einstein. His candidate website says his priorities would be addressing COVID-19 safety, promoting “eco-friendly schools,” closing the achievement gap, and addressing the academic impacts of virtual classrooms during the pandemic.

“Baba understands what it is like for most students to have collapsing buildings, the lack of diversity within our teachers and staff, the lack of resources to help us perform better in our studies, and so much more that needs to be addressed,” its website says. “We need a student school board member who represents each of us facing real issues, even in underserved areas. -represented, so that each of us can be represented as a whole.”

MCPS Director of Student Leadership and Extracurricular Activities Shella Cherry wrote in an email Friday that Cisse is a member of the SMOB advisory board and recently joined the MoCo Pride Youth outreach team. He is a member of Einstein’s varsity track and field teams, Cherry wrote.

Kim is a member of the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association.

His campaign website says he has a “180-plus point plan for MCPS” that addresses topics such as improving school safety, mental health resources, equity, curriculum, and student participation in decision-making.

“This is a movement to elevate, empower and fight for student voice,” its website says.

Cherry wrote that Kim is the chief of staff for the county student government association and was previously vice president of the Montgomery County Junior Council Student Government Association.

Kim was a founding member of MoCo Pride Youth and was previously involved with the Maryland Association of Student Councils, Asian American Progressive Student Union, and MoCo Students for Change.

Cissé and Kim will continue to campaign until April. On April 20, all middle and high school students will be eligible to vote in countywide elections. The results should be announced in the evening. The winner will be sworn in on July 1 and will serve a one-year term.

Student members of the Montgomery County School Board have full voting rights, except for negative staff actions. They receive a $5,000 college scholarship, student service learning hours, and honors-level social studies credit.

Students who will be juniors or seniors during their tenure can apply for the position.

The other candidates were:
• Heera Anand, Junior, Poolesville High School
• Jaiden Burney, junior, Richard Montgomery
• Max Choi, Junior, Thomas S. Wootton High School
• Ava Cook, Junior, North West High School
• Shubhang Eruventi, junior, Richard Montgomery
• Christina Garcia De Leon, junior, Clarksburg High
• Liam Kirby, Junior, Walter Johnson High School
• Maahe Kunvar, Junior, North West High School
• Eleanor Pugh, junior, Walt Whitman
• Norma Romero-Reyes, junior, Montgomery Blair High
• Sarah Seam, junior, Col. Zadok Magruder High
• Muhammad Wali, Junior, James Hubert Blake High School
• Yehonatan Tapiro, junior, Northwood High
• Todd Zhou, Winston Churchill High School

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at [email protected]

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