In a nail-biter election, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s Eric Guerci secured enough votes to become the next student at Montgomery County’s school board table.
Guerci, a sophomore at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, was elected by his fellow students to become the 38th student member of the board, or SMOB. The victory, he said, left him “shocked” and “honored.”
“I really couldn’t believe it at first, but it’s starting to hit me now,” he said Thursday, the day after the election.
Guerci garnered, 33,046 votes, or 52 percent. The other contender — Rachit Agarwal, a junior from Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville — had 30,679 votes, or 48 percent.
Guerci will take office in July, replacing current student board member Dahlia Huh of Clarksburg High School, who is graduating.
The voter pool included Montgomery County Public Schools students from middle schools, high schools, alternative programs, Rock Terrace School and the John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents.
Of the school district’s roughly 78,800 eligible student voters, about 64,300 cast votes, including some ballots that were blank, according to the school system’s website.
Guerci, currently vice president of the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association, said he was motivated to run for the board position to serve and empower students. The role continues his work in student advocacy, efforts he is passionate about, he said. He also is a member of his high school’s class of 2017 student government.
Guerci is familiar with the board position. He sat on an advisory group for former student board member Justin Kim, who held the position in 2013-14.
Having watched several student board members, he said, he views the position as both “demanding” and “a force for change.”
He described himself as “an everyday high school student” who worked hard to win the seat.
“I hold myself to the highest standard of anyone else,” he said.
Guerci talked about several issues he’s looking forward to discussing on the board, ranging from technology in classrooms to possible changes to standardized testing.
For Agarwal, the end of the campaign trail doesn’t mark the end of one of his main platform ideas. Starting with his high school, he said, he hopes to follow through on a plan to help teachers use free apps and games in their lessons.
Agarwal said he and Guerci — who have worked together in student government — have “very different kind of ideas and approaches” that can allow them to work well together.
“I know that he’ll do a great job as SMOB and I know that I would love to help him out in the future,” he said.
Agarwal, however, did not end his campaign without a victory — he secured a prom date.
The prom-posal was cleverly planned for Election Day: If he didn’t become the next student member, he said, he still would have “something to be happy about.”
Huh said that as she helped monitor the election process at various schools, the outcome was unclear.
“Right into the last minute, I literally did not know who was going to win,” she said.
Huh, who knows both candidates, said Guerci will fit into the student board member role because he shares what’s on his mind and isn’t afraid to advocate.
“He’s definitely going to be able to hit the ground running,” she said.
School board Vice President Michael Durso said the student board members he has known have been “in a class all by themselves.”
“The last several SMOBs have all hit the ground running and I don’t see Eric being any different,” he said.