When Reginald A. Moore leaves a Prince George's County school board meeting, there are few hands he hasn't pumped at least once. Ever the politican, Moore is known by face if not by name by all school board and school staff members and most of the reporters covering the meetings.
Until recently, he was known only as the brother of the school board student member, Sidney Moore. But with his election last week as successor to his brother, Reginald Moore will assume the responsibility for representing the county's 127,000 students in board meetings.
At a meeting of the Prince George's Regional Association of Student Governments last week, Moore defeated Eligio Betancourt Jr., of Central High by a vote of 66 to 47, becoming the fourth student member to sit on the board of education.
Moore, who will be a senior at Gwynn Park Senior High School next year, was elected by delegates from 45 of the county's 60 junior and senior high schools, and will begin his year-long term on June 26.
"I guess my curiosity is what got me initially interested in this job," said Moore, a reedy 16 year-old who often glances away as he talks. "I took an interest in what Sidney was doing. A few months ago, I decided that I could do a good job in the slot, giving a lot of myself and helping the students of Prince George's to get what they want."
Moore says the fact that he is the brother of the present student member was both an advantage and a disadvantage.
"I heard that there were certain rumours being floated around, some students telling others not to vote for me because I was Sidney's brother," said Reggie, as he likes to be called. "On the other hand, I had gotten to know a lot of student leaders in the county through my brother."
With the election behind him, Reggie Moore says he will have to move out of his brother's shadow.
"I am proud that Sidney Moore is my brother, but I've got to get the word out that I am Reggie Moore, not just Sidney Moore's brother . . . I definitely intend to show people that I am my own person.
"The Prince George's Association of Student Governments didn't vote for me just because I was Sidney Moore's brother, they voted for me because I was better qualified than my opponent. I've watched the process from up close and I think I'll be ready to handle the job."
Moore, who lives in Brandywine, is vice-president of the student government association at this high school and a member of the football and wrestling teams. He has visited many other county schools and rarely misses a school board meeting.
The intensity with which he takes on a task has won him praise and given rise to complaints.
"He's a good kid most of the time, but he can be a real pain in the a-- sometimes," said one board observer.
Moore says he intends to focus most of his attention on the school budget and student apathy.
"My top priority will be keeping an eye on TRIM," he said. "We've got to make sure that it doesn't continue to eat up the school board budget."
"Getting students more interested in what the school board is doing would also help a great deal," he added.
He doesn't believe however that either task will be easy.
"This is a very frustrating job," said Moore. "I know that much from what I've seen my brother go through this past year. The student member is always at a disadvantage because he doesn't have a vote."
"What it comes down too, I guess, is that I'll have to become the best politican on the board," said Moore. "It could be a very rough year, but I intend to do my best. Nobody, including Sidney, has ever told me this would be an easy job."