HCPSS to Elect New SMOB 

SMOB candidates share their missions to represent all HCPSS students for a better future

Picture from left: Dhruvi Mirani, a junior at Glenelg High School and Peter Banyas, a junior at Howard High school

Who’s the better candidate for the Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB)? Students will decide this week. Each year the Howard County Association of Student Councils (HCASC) hosts a SMOB election to select a new member to participate in the Board of Education (BOE) for the upcoming school year. Students in grades 6-12 attending a Howard County Public School have the opportunity to vote. Both candidates, Peter Banyas and Dhruvi Mirani have leadership experience, making them qualified candidates. 

Junior Peter Banyas serves as president of the class of 2022 at Howard High School. Banyas has worked with HCPSS superintendent, and is a self-proclaimed “process changer.” He believes “SMOB shouldn’t be someone that claims the student mandate and makes decisions by themselves.” He views the role of SMOB as “a connector of students and the board… who facilitates real conversations and discussions of controversial issues for kids across HCPSS, and someone who strongly advocates for the student interest.”

Banyas shared an Instagram post detailing his main goals: to host SMOB town halls via Google Meet on a two-week basis, to ensure all students continue to have internet access with a school-issued device such as a Chromebook, and to continue hosting “Fireside Fridays” in order to breakdown complex topics from HCPSS board meetings. 

He also emphasized that the top priority is to continue hosting “SMOB town halls so that [he] can talk with kids and friend to friend.” In addition to hosting town halls, Banyas hopes to make frequent platform posts on his social media accounts to keep all students informed. Because Banyas is incorporating different ways of communication, he believes all student voices will be heard. 

Also running for SMOB is Dhruvi Mirani, a junior at Glenelg High School. In addition to being three-time SGA president and co-captain of Glenelg Debate, he is vice president of Glenelg Democrats. The top issues for his campaign are “equity and mental health,” and he thinks that they are the two “most pressing issues that [HCPSS] need[s] to work on.” He believes HCPSS “needs to get to the root of burdens on students, which is why [he will] advocate for later school start times.”

Mirani’s mission is to strengthen equity through the following acts: offering implicit bias training to student leaders, mandating additional bystander intervention training for staff, working towards making academics more inclusive and holistic to emphasize anti-racism in classes, expanding health curricula to cover LGBTQ+ topic, and reducing HCPSS reliance on standardized testing as a measure of student success.

To ensure that all student voices will be heard, Mirani “will constantly seek student input to make sure that [he is] representing all students.” He will strive to “uplift every voice, including quiet and reluctant ones, and make informed votes.” He hopes for all students to feel comfortable when approaching him by having town halls regularly.

Ultimately, both SMOB candidates have proficient skills and share similar missions, but only one candidate will be selected as the next SMOB. To learn more about the two candidates’ goals and to make an informed decision, visit their social media and websites.


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