The Black & White

Q&A: 2018-19 Maryland State SMOB Bryce Awono

Bryce Awono will begin his term as Maryland SMOB July 1. Awono is a rising junior at Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County. Photo courtesy Awono.

Bryce Awono will begin his term as Maryland SMOB July 1. Awono is a rising junior at Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County. Photo courtesy Awono.

By Jack Middleton

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Not to be confused with the Montgomery County Student Member of the Board, the Maryland SMOB is a position appointed by the Governor that serves on the Maryland Board of Education. Bryce Awono, the state SMOB for the upcoming school year, is a rising junior at Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County. Awono will be sworn in on July 1.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

The Black & White: Since the Maryland SMOB is not directly elected by students, the position seems to fly under the radar. Could you give an overview of the position and what you do?

Bryce Awono: The primary function of the Maryland SMOB is not only to represent the students of Maryland on the state Board of Education, but to be an advocate for student interests.

B&W: What previous experiences have prepared you to be the Maryland SMOB?

BA: I’ve served on the Maryland Association of Student Councils as treasurer, one of their elected student officer positions. I make sure that I’m knowledgeable about the State Board of Education, and I’ve been attending meetings since December of last year. At the Prince George’s County Board of Education, I’ve advocated for AP funding for all students—something I was able to secure with the help of other advocates. I’m an involved community leader and a reference for students statewide.

B&W: What are some of the issues you would like to focus on as Maryland SMOB?

BA: One of the most prominent issues is testing. I want to review testing procedures and make sure students are not being tested for the sake of getting tested. I also want to make sure students are college and career ready with an emphasis on being prepared for the real world.

My second point will be financial literacy, which is equipping our students—especially high school students and seniors— with knowledge about finances and managing money, including budgeting and tax filing. Lastly, I would like to focus on infrastructure, making sure our buildings are safe and students are in an environment that protects their safety at all times.

B&W: What are you working on between now and your swearing-in on July 1st?

BA: One thing I’m doing is data mapping, which is where I collect data relating to the issues we’ve discussed. I’m doing this so I can get right to work when I’m sworn in. You might see some polls in the next few weeks for students; I want to be vocal and reach out to see what concerns the students have. I’m attending the monthly Board of Education meetings up until my swearing in.

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