There’s a new student voice on the Frederick County Board of Education.
Malachi Macon, a rising junior at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, took over as student member of the school board on Monday.
“I feel very excited. It’s certainly going to be a new experience. ... I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Macon said.
Middle and high school students across the county voted online in January for a new student board member. Macon received the most votes, besting nine others.
Macon will sit on the Board of Education for the next year, providing opinion and perspective on various topics. The role is to bring voice and representation to the board.
During his year serving as the student board member, Macon said he hopes to deliver on his campaign promises, including lengthening high school lunch periods to an hour and expanding programs to support the mental health of students.
“With more social media that students have to deal with on top of all their school work and ... homework being more extensive, things can get kind of stressful, especially for high school students,” Macon said. “So as long as we make sure that the students are OK, then they can perform to the best of their abilities.”
The role of the student member is to provide perspective and a voice for the students. Their support for or against an issue is noted, but they do not vote on agenda items at board meetings.
When asked how he feels about not having a vote on the board, Macon said he doesn’t mind since his main job is to bring forward the perspective of the students.
“It’s ... a direct representation of student perspective basically at any time at any given meeting,” Macon said. “Even without the vote, I feel this board is going to listen to whatever I say in terms of the student perspective and they’re going to take that into account whenever they decide to vote.”
Macon takes over from previous student board member Paige Tolbard, who attended her last Board of Education meeting on June 26.
Tolbard, who recently graduated from Frederick High School, is off to Wagner College in Staten Island, New York, where she will be on the track team. She is undecided on her major of study.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Tolbard told The Frederick News-Post after the meeting. “I still think in two weeks I’m going to be back here sitting in the meetings, eating dinner with the board.”
Tolbard said her year serving on the board was full of learning experiences that have helped her develop needed skills for adulthood.
Macon, who spent the last few months shadowing Tolbard, said she taught him to be present at every moment in order to be ready to offer perspective whenever needed.
“I want to make sure I represent [students] adequately to their expectations so I’m certainly going to be trying my best this next year,” Macon said. “I enjoy school ... and I want to make sure everyone else does as well.”