Two Whitman juniors file as SMOB candidates


Greer Vermilye

Whitman juniors Arvin Kim and Eleanor Pugh are among the candidates running to serve as the 45th MCPS Student Member of the Board of Education.

By Samantha Wang

Whitman juniors Arvin Kim and Eleanor Pugh have filed for candidacy in the 45th MCPS Student Member of the Board election. 

The SMOB serves as the student representative on the Board of Education and has full voting rights on all school-related decisions except for disciplinary student suspensions and staff performance evaluation. 

Kim is the director of policy for MoCo Pride, a student-led organization that advocates for a stronger and more diverse LGBTQ+ community. Kim is also the Vice President of the Asian American Progressive Student Union, a youth-led group in Montgomery County that aims to target racially-motivated prejudice toward communities of color. Last year, Kim served as the Vice President of the Montgomery County Regional (MCR) SGA, and three years ago, he was the Treasurer of the Montgomery County Junior Council (MCJC). 

Kim’s platform focuses on ensuring equity within the county. His campaign goals include eliminating the opportunity gap for LGBTQ+ and minority students, diversifying course offerings and adding more psychologists in schools. Kim also hopes to increase opportunities for student participation in advocacy and make bus transportation safer and more sustainable. 

Pugh was a general member on 42nd SMOB Nate Tinbite’s advisory committee in 2019-2020. She also served as an election judge during the 41st SMOB election, and as her class’ representative at Eastern Middle School when she was in seventh grade. One of her primary campaign goals is to ensure that each school has the same amount of PTA funds. Whitman has a separate funding organization, the Whitman Education Foundation, that dedicates donated funds to the school and to other high schools in the county. However, these funds are significantly more than those of larger schools in other parts of the district, like Montgomery Blair

Pugh is also advocating for any county resident to be able to become a member of the Board, and not just registered voters.

“Having to be a registered voter excludes the population of non-US citizens in the county,” Pugh said. “There’s a very large population of noncitizens who also happen to be lower-income, and they tend to be mainly non-white compared to the rest of the MoCo population. I think it’s very important to represent noncitizen voices as well.”

Kim said his priority as he begins his campaign is to connect with every student and staff member in MCPS. 

“Some steps I’ve taken so far include publishing a website as a way for people to reach me and learn more about my campaign,” Kim said. “I’ve also written a short speech and created a video for it in order to put my advocacy out there and to gather support from different students.”

There hasn’t been a student from Whitman on the Board of Education since the 1996-1997 school year when Rachel Prager (‘97) served as the 19th SMOB.

On Feb. 16, delegates from each MCPS middle and high school will attend a nominating convention, where the delegates will narrow the field of SMOB candidates down to two finalists. Every middle and high school student in the county will be able to vote for their preferred candidate on April 20. 

Junior Jonathan Kevorkian, who planned on running for SMOB but decided against it, is optimistic that the chosen two candidates during the convention will be the most suitable finalists.

 “No matter who the final two candidates are, they’re definitely the best choices the delegates decided,” Kevorkian said. “I have faith in the delegates to make the right calls even if it’s not one of our candidates.”