Christine Dent, 17, newly elected Prince George's County student school board member, said she joined the race along with 17 other students after her friends suggested that she run.

Her strategy to win was to "let people know I would help them."

Dant's election to the non-voting, non-paid spot on the school board makes prince George's the third county in Maryland to have a student board member. The other two countries are a Ann Arundle and Carroll. Next year, Montgomery County will hold an election to seat a student school board member.

Dant, from Landover Hills and a senior at Fairmont Heights High School, is giving up the editorship of her school newspaper to sit on the school board. She has been president of her school's honor society and was president of her junior class this year. She said she wants to become a teacher or lawyer.

After winning the election last week with 65 of 105 votes cast by delegates of the regional student government in a special election at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Dant said she has "gained confidence."

She said that several school board members have told her they were scared when they attended their first school board meeting too." She said it is important that "we find mutual respent on the school board . . . I don't feel they will block me out."

During her campaign, Dant emphasized her role as a "liason." She said she would meet with both junior and senior high school representatives and encourage communication.

Her position on the Prince George's County school board was created as the result of a Maryland General Assembly law this year. The legislation prohibits the student from attending executive sessions and participating in union negotiations. The student may debate issues and propose legislation.

"This will give the school board badly needed student input," according to Jessie J. Warr Jr., the county school board president.

Warr, who met with student candidates before the election, said: "You (the elected school board member) will have an important role in giving us insight to young people are thinking."

Warr told the students that they should become knowledgable about school board topics and should learn parlimentary procedure.

The new school board member will attend and take part in the country school board's meeting this July.