Students in Anne Arundel and Howard counties have elected their representatives for their respective school boards.

Hafsa Hamdaoui, who attends Crofton High School in western Anne Arundel County, was elected by the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils last month. Howard County students in grades six through 11 elected James Obasiolu, from Atholton High School, on Wednesday.

The winners will each serve a one-year term and receive scholarships — $8,000 in Anne Arundel and $5,000 in Howard County.

Hamdaoui said that during her one-year term as Student Member of the Board (SMOB), she would like to focus on equity and mental health throughout the county.

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“I want to uplift AACPS and students,” she said.

Hamdaoui’s term will begin July 1, after she is appointed by Gov. Wes Moore. She will succeed Eric Lin, a Severna Park High School student whose term expires on June 30.

The student representative for Anne Arundel County is the only one in the nation who has full voting rights on a local school board.

In Howard County, the student member can vote on all issues before the school board except decisions pertaining to personnel, the school budget or restricted matters.

In recent years, the role of the student member has faced legal scrutiny in Howard County. In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed a case in which some Howard County parents claimed the process of selecting the student member violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. They also argued that it violated the constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion because it shut out students who, for religious reasons, choose to attend nonpublic schools.

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Obasiolu decided to run for student representative because, as he said, “I want to be a voice for the voiceless, I want to continue that long legacy of fighting for change.”

And he is ready to hit the ground running when his term begins July 1. Obasiolu plans to focus on achievement gaps; school climate and atmosphere; student safety and mental wellness; as well as involving more students in the work of the Board of Education.

“I want to make sure as many students as possible know about the SMOB,” said Obasiolu, who will succeed Howard High School senior Lamia Ayaz.

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