Whitman junior Arvin Kim wins SMOB election with 58.7% of the vote


Photo via MCPS

Whitman junior Arvin Kim won Wednesday’s SMOB election with 58.7% of the vote. He will be the first SMOB from the school since 1997.

By Jasper Lester

Walt Whitman High School junior Arvin Kim won the 2022-2023 MCPS Student Member of the Board election on Wednesday.

Kim received 58.7% of the vote, while his opponent, Albert Einstein High School junior Ibrahima (Baba) Cisse, collected 40.8%.

Over 56,000 middle and high school students voted in Wednesday’s election — an increase from the approximately 33,000 students who voted for their choice of SMOB last April.

“I’m deeply grateful and deeply humbled by this chance to serve,” Kim said.

Kim’s one-year term begins on July 1. He will be the first SMOB from Whitman since 1997, replacing Richard Montgomery High School senior Hana O’Looney, who currently holds the position.

Kim campaigned for office on a platform centered around free and healthier school lunches, providing students with more mental health resources and allowing students to enroll in both in-person and online classes. He told The Black & White that his first priorities as SMOB will be to expand access to mental health resources and to ensure mental health days are excused absences.  

“Looking back at this past year especially, mental health support is really critical for our school system to reinvest in,” Kim said.

For junior Shreekanya Mitra, selecting a candidate to vote for was difficult because both Kim and Cisse were extremely qualified for the job, she said.

It did come down to looking at their qualifications, policy goals and how they’ve interacted with students over the past few months,” Mitra said. “That kind of led to my decision.”

Kim currently serves as a Chief of Staff​ for the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association and has served as both the Legislative Affairs Deputy and Treasurer of the organization in past years.

Board of Education member Scott Joftus said that he believes the school district’s SMOB serves an especially important role because Montgomery County is one of only two Maryland counties to give a student member full voting rights on all Board matters, with the exception of negative personnel actions.

“This SMOB is a fully active member of the board and is treated as such,” Joftus said. “We all like to say that we’re doing our work on behalf of students, but having an actual student [enables us] to push even further in that direction.”

Kim visited 54 schools during his campaign for office and documented many of his visits on TikTok and Instagram.

“I’m really excited for this opportunity,” Kim said. “I think that the changes we make next year are going to be really critical in defining the outcome for our county.”


Dr. Scott Joftus is the father of opinion editor Eliana Joftus.