By JULIE E. GREENE
3:45 PM EDT, August 18, 2012
When Amanda Krehbiel attended a legislative session for the Maryland Association of Student Councils, it sparked her interest in serving the students of Washington County on a larger scale, the North Hagerstown High School student said.
During the session 17 months ago, student government representatives from around the state elected a student representative to the Maryland State Board of Education.
“I didn’t know this existed. This sounds awesome. Something that would be perfect for me,” said Amanda, who recently reflected on learning about the student representative election process.
The state student representative wasn’t quite a political position, but would be a way to serve, something Amanda said always has appealed to her.
So last school year, Amanda ran for the state seat and became a finalist, she said. When she lost that bid, Amanda turned her sights on the student seat for the Washington County Board of Education.
Elected to the local seat last spring by the Washington County Association of Student Councils, Amanda already has attended two school board meetings as the new student representative.
So far, Amanda, 16, has been relatively quiet at the meetings because, she said, she’s still getting her footing, and other board members have voiced concerns she shares.
“I like it. It’s certainly interesting,” Amanda said. As she gets more familiar with her new post and learns how things work, Amanda said she expects to speak up more at board meetings.
Amanda isn’t afraid to speak up.
In addition to her experience as a Student Government Association member, she participates in mock trials, chorus, school musicals, and is both a student and assistant instructor for martial arts at Premiere Martial Arts on Dual Highway. She holds two black belts, one of which is for Hapkido, she said.
The daughter of David and Leesa Krehbiel, Amanda is an incoming senior at North High. She participates in the high school’s college-preparatory International Baccalaureate program.
She plans to go to college, and is considering attending law school because she wants to pursue a legal career, and perhaps one day become a judge or an ambassador for the United States in a foreign country.
“I want to travel. I want to see the world. So international law is a good bet,” said Amanda, who is a member of North High’s International Club.
She expects to do a lot of local traveling this school year, and said she will do her best to visit all of the schools in the county’s public school system, and still maintain her grades.
Visiting schools is one of her responsibilities as student board representative, she said.
Two issues Amanda said she expects to take to the board for discussion are the student dress code and voting rights for the school board’s student representative.
“Some of the rules are just a little archaic,” Amanda said of the dress code.
The policy continues to be that shorts, skirts and dresses must “cover the mid-thigh when sitting down, or be at least long enough to meet the tip of the student’s longest finger when the student is standing with arms down at the sides,” according to the newest student handbook.
A Boonsboro Middle School student approached the school board last year to challenge that rule, saying it penalized students with long arms and fingers.
Amanda said she would like that rule to become more standardized, perhaps determining the appropriate length of shorts by the length of the inseam.
She said she also would like students to be able to wear tank tops, without another shirt over them, as long as the tops have wide straps, perhaps 2 to 3 inches wide.
The dress code states: “Muscle shirts and tank tops are considered undergarments and must have a shirt over them or under them.”
As long as tank tops provide proper coverage and have straps wide enough to cover bra straps, students should be able to wear them to school, Amanda said.
Many of her predecessors have tried to get voting rights for the board’s student member.
Amanda said she would like to lobby for at least partial voting rights.
It is, after all, the students who are affected by the policies, she said. Providing a voice for the school system’s student body is what appealed to Amanda about the board’s student member position, she said.
“These are the kids who see every day what’s going on. They’re closer to the issue than the people sitting on the board are,” said Amanda, noting that can be good and bad.
Sometimes, students are so close to an issue that they can’t see the big picture like the school board does, she said. But, at the same time, students are seeing things the board doesn’t see, she said.
Copyright © 2013, Herald Mail