For 16-year-old Jason Hintz, the rise to power came quickly.

The new student representative on the Fairfax County School Board moved to Reston from San Diego just two years ago. At the time, he had never heard of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the newly opening regional school where he was to apply and be accepted. Shortly after enrolling, Hintz campaigned for class president and won.

"I didn't know anybody," said Hintz, recalling that campaign, "but neither did anybody else." This past school year, when Hintz was a sophomore, he won a seat on the Student Advisory Council, an organization that advises the School Board on issues of interest to students and selects the student representative to the board.

It was at the council's annual meeting May 21 at Fairfax High School that Hintz was picked as the newest student representative, after undergoing grueling questioning from the 100 delegates at the convention and delivering five speeches.

"They asked everything from issue stances to what courses you take," Hintz said. "They want to make sure you're dedicated to it {being a board member} and it's not something you will fluff off."

The first rising junior elected as student representative to the board, Hintz will succeed Laura Piper, who attended Robinson Secondary School. Hintz will not have a vote on the board but will be able to participate in discussions. He will be paid a stipend of $50 a meeting.

Hintz says his year ahead will entail long hours of public meetings, work sessions and reading of background documents. To make room for the new job, Hintz expects to withdraw from some of his extracurricular activities, such as football and the student newspaper. And he plans to choose his courses carefully this year, opting for a lighter workload than he would normally undertake.

"I'm always interested in student issues," Hintz said. "Obviously, being on the School Board is the best position you can have if you really want to do something about school issues."

Hintz says he does not expect to be intimidated by his older, more experienced colleagues on the board. After attending the board's annual retreat in Fredericksburg in May, he said he feels accepted by and comfortable with fellow members.

Among the issues he expects to address are stress and teen suicide. "There's a lot of things on teen-agers' minds in high school," Hintz said. "They're pressured to have to drink and . . . to have to take drugs . . . to fit in with the group as well as doing well in school."

Hintz said he favors the peer counseling programs set up at some county high schools. "We'd maybe like to see that expanded to every high school in the county," he said, echoing a position of the Student Advisory Council.

Increasing the number of electives is another proposal strongly supported by the students, Hintz said. This could be done by increasing the number of classroom periods from six to seven and by reducing the periods from 55 minutes to 45, Hintz said.

Hintz said he favors the merit pay program being implemented by the school system and strongly supports teacher raises.

Asked about the policy approved at his first meeting last week that requires school bus drivers to undergo urine tests for drugs, Hintz said he was in full agreement with his colleagues. He said that although he does not believe that drugs are a widespread problem among bus drivers, testing is important. He said he has heard of incidents of drivers using drugs or alcohol on the job.

Hintz describes himself outside his school interests as a "typical kid . . . . I like to go to movies, I play tennis . . . throw parties . . . go to dances." During the fall and spring, he referees intermediate school soccer games in Reston.