When A. Lewis Lowery was nominated student representative to the Fairfax County school board at last week's student nominating convention, the 16-year-old Langley High School junior had survived nine hours of politicking that pitted high school against high school.
After a day of speeches, questions and answers, caucuses, three ballots, more questions and answers, more caucuses, and two more ballots, the majority of nearly 100 students representing the 22 high schools in the county chose Lowery as their representative to the county school board.
If his nomination is approved by the county Board of Supervisors, Lowery will serve for one year as a non-voting, unsalaried school board member. He would be paid, though, $25 for each board meeting he attends plus traveling expenses.
In his five-minute speech at theseventh nominating convention at Fairfax High School, Lowery said he supports student evaluation of teachers and advocates a weighted grading scale where advance classes would have more weight than regular classes in computing grade point average. He also said he favors regaining the voting power of the student school board member.
Most of the othe candidates - two females and five males - echoed Lowery's views.
After each candidate gave a five-minute speech and answered a host of questions, the convention delegates huddled in four floor caucuses.
In these caucuses, delegates discussed, among other things, the candidates' grade point averages, ages, experiences and memberships in various organizations.
"Will the (school) board take him seriously?" one delegate asked about a Chantilly High School candidate who is a member of the Democratic Party and Common Cause.
Many of the candidates attended the caucuses, although one caucus "kicked out" a candidate.
After the half-hour caucus, the convention delegates were ready to vote. On the first ballot, none of the candidates was eliminated. But, on the second ballot, two sophomores - Kelly Ann Parker of J.E.B. Stuart High School and Bobby Girardi of Robert E. Lee High School - and Mark W. Hertzog, a Chantilly High School junior, were dropped.
Jeffrey Bryce, one of two Langley High School candidates, was eliminated on the third ballot.
With the field narrowed to four candidates, the convention chairperson allowed another half-hour question and answer period, which was followed by caucuses.
Throughout the earlier voting, various high school delegations supported candidates from their school. The eight candidates represented seven different high schools.
As the field narrowed, the high school delegations with candidates still the race tried to persuade other high school to support their candidate.
In the Area IV caucus, where students from six high schools in the southwestern part of the country were gathered, Woodson High School students tried to convince the other high schools to support Jeff (Tracy) Henderson, a Woodson candidate.
However, Fairfax High School students, who also were participants in the Area IV caucus, urged support of their school candidate, Nelson Guiterrez.
After much bickering and stormy debate, the caucus broke up and one Robinson Secondary School student commented to a friend, "There's going to be blood spilled."
No blood was spilled, but Henderson, the Woodson student, and Toni M. Andrews, a Groveton High School student, were eliminated on the fourth ballot.
On the fifth ballot, Lowery received 680 of the 97 votes to defeat Guitterez.
"I feel fantastic," Lowery said after he was announced the winner.
An honor student with a 3.5 average out of a possible 4.0, Lowery is a member of the International Relations Club, the Methodist Youth Fellowship and International Thespians.
In the past the country Board of Supervisors has always appointed to the board the nominee selected at the student nominating convention. If his nomination is approved, Lowery will begin serving July 1.
For four years, Fairfax had a voting student school board member, who received the same salary as the other board members. However, that position was abolished last April after it became controversial.