After nearly three hours of being bogged down in a thicket of parliamentary procedure, some delegates at yesterday's meeting of the Prince George's Regional Association of Student Governments were getting testy. The students peppered the auditorium of High Point Senior High School with calls of "point, point, point" of order during and after every motion.
Debaters lined up at two microphones, pro and con, to offer motions about other motions. A resolution supporting Medicaid funding for abortions survived one motion to postpone and two moves to reject consideration, only to be defeated by a floor vote of 39 to 34. Some delegates, some as young as 13, were not sure what they were voting for.
The student organization, representing 59,000 Prince George's secondary students, meets six times a year to take positions on school and government policy and expects its voice to be heard both in Upper Marlboro and Annapolis.
About 230 delegates attended yesterday's meeting, including representatives of all 20 high schools.
Debate raged on whether blood type should be included on drivers' licenses; on giving 7th and 8th graders high school credit for subjects such as algebra and French; and on lobbying the school board to allow personal locks on lockers. But the abortion bill was the hottest agenda item.
"It was mostly Bowie (High School) and some of the younger members who were objecting to the abortion bill," according Joe Harr, a senior from Eleanor Roosevelt High and author of the bill.
Harr, a crafty veteran of four years in student government, with the confidence and waistline of a baby Tip O'Neill, said he plans to re-introduce an improved version of his bill at the state convention of student governments in Carroll County on Saturday.
Many of the delegates, like Harr, are overachievers. They keep one step ahead of Roberts rules, play tennis, join French and Spanish clubs and are elected to the National Honor Society. Many said they plan to major in history or political science -- before going on to law school and becoming politicians.
"It's my whole life's ambition" (to go into politics), said Jerome Ballard, president of the association. "I'd like to turn around this stuff about politicians being dirty."
Sharon Peek, 17, president of the honor society and captain of the "It's Academic" team at Suitland High, was upset that a move to suspend the rules was passed narrowly near the end of the meeting.
"They are supposed to go back to their schools and learn it, not come here and want to stop things because they don't understand it," she said in a post-meeting huddle with the Suitland delegation.
But Jennie Beecher, a 16-year-old from Laurel, said, "If you don't understand, it's a pain. If you do, it's easy."