At least one member of the Brandywine Board of Education looks upon the position as a possible stepping stone to higher political office. She said that wasn't all that motivated her to seek the office but, now that she has it, who knows where it will lead.

"I've always been attracted to government and politics. It's too early to say what will happen, but this is my first time being actually involved and I expect to learn a lot. We'll see where that takes me," said Sharon Greenbaum, 17, a senior at Concord High School who will serve during this academic year as the non-voting student representative on the school board.

That she was serious about wanting the job is evidenced by the fact she won it in May after losing in the election held a year earlier. During the intervening time, she kept in touch with Lauren Mineo, of Brandywine High School, who beat her out

in the first try. The two because friends and Greenbaum credits with Mineo with giving her a running start by filling her in on how the board functions.

The main piece of advice she said she intends to follow: "Speak up and be yourself."

Based on her experience at her first meeting in July, Greenbaum said she expects that the other members of the board will make it comfortable for her to do so. "They were all very warm and friendly. I think they want to hear what the student representative has to say."

She said what she said will depend on what her schoolmates and those attending

Sharon Greenbaum

Brandywine and Mount Pleasant want her to say. "It's not all just what I think. I am representing the high schools so I have to follow what the high school [students] think."

Getting a feel for that may be the biggest challenge she faces. Student representative is a position that has yet to catch on with the majority of boys and girls in the schools although the Brandywine district has had one for several years. "A lot of us didn't even know we have a student representative. There isn't much talk about it or about what's happening with the school board.," she said.

Greenbaum is not sure she can change that entirely, but she is going to make an effort -- at least with those students savvy enough to recognize that there are matters where their viewpoints are important. She is going to use Concord's Web site to communicate about those things and e.mail to get input.

"I'll definitely speak up when they're (the board) is talking about things that directly affect the high schools," she said.

One current issue that comes to mind is use of weighted grades to determine class rank. Although present seniors and probably juniors will not be affected by the proposed revision in the Brandywine system, it will impact underclassmen and their successors, she noted.

More than just the prestige of high standing, relative rank in the graduating class can have an impact on college admissions, especially for those who want to attend prestige and out-of-state schools, she said. "It does matter whether you're in the upper 10% [of the class] or not."

The issue involves rewarding, or penalizing, students who take honors and advanced-placement classes. Under a weighted system, a 'B' in a more difficult class would count for more than an 'A' in a less difficult one class. Without weighting, the result would be reversed.

Another issue with great future impact, Greenbaum said, is what the district decides to do about implementing the state Neighborhood Schools Act. Having come through the Brandywine district system since her family moved to Delaware when she was in second grade, except for two years in Wilmington Montessori School, she said the present attendance arrangement works just fine.

"I went to Burnett [Intermediate School], which is in the city, and it was no problem. It was safe," she said. "Most people don't want it to change. I don't see why we have to go through with it when we don't want it."

Posted on August 20, 2001

2001. All rights reserved.

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