Fairfax County's only elected school board member was chosen recently at the countywide Student Advisory Council convention. He is 16-year-old David McCreight, vice president of the junior class at Robinson Secondary School, the only student representative to the board.
But this year -- as in the past -- the student member will be denied a vote on school matters. The vote was rescinded in 1976 after a student member was accused of misusing public funds.
"One student got carried away and we permanently lost the vote," said McCreight, with a touch of bitterness.
McCreight lists restoration of voting rights for the student representative as a top priority of the Student Advisory Council that elected him.
"Every year the students try to get back the vote," he said, "but I would be totally satisfied with a partial vote of some kind."
While chances for reinstatement of the vote are questionable, the student is allowed to participate in board discussions. On several occasions, the outgoing student member, James Taylor, was able to persuade other board members to make motions on his behalf.
Taylor was an outspoken supporter of expanding the sex education program in county schools and a critic of using student funds to pay teachers for extra-curricular activities.
Describing himself as an "admirer" of Taylor's, McCreight says he will probably take similar stands on most issues. One area of concern, he said, is the prevention of drug abuse in the schools.
McCreight, who lives in Fairfax with his parents, a brother and a sister, attended parochial school until eighth grade when he entered the Fairfax school system.
The new board member participates in school activities including the Key Club and Robinson's Tennis team. He attends Holy Spirit Church in Springfield.
Additionally, McCreight works part time as "an aide to an aide" for Sen. S. Michael Levin (D-Mich.), where he is getting a taste of the kind of work he will do if he sticks with his plan to attend law school.
"I'm supporting George Bush for president, but I won't be old enough to vote in November," McCreight says.
The new school board member was elected by a procedure modeled on the one used by the major political parties at nominating conventions.The field of eight was reduced to one on the seventh ballot by a vote of 61 to 27.
"It was very draining," McCreight said of the protracted voting procedure. "I can't imagine what it would be like at a national political convention."
McCreight emphasizes that school board matters will take precedence over his work on Capitol Hill, when his one-year term begins July 1.