Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Teen candidate promises fresh perspective

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2007 was a year of milestones for Frederick resident Robert Oland.

In the summer, he graduated from Linganore High School. And in the winter, he registered as the youngest candidate ever to run for a seat on the Frederick County Board of Education.

It was a decision he made in September, when he found out that he was old enough to run for one of three seats on the school board.

Now, the Frederick Community College freshman said he is ready to compete in February primary election.

‘‘I know I am going to encounter a lot of people that may think I am too young,” Oland said. ‘‘I can tell them: ‘I may be young, but I am very energetic. I am very enthusiastic about this.”

An aspiring German language teacher, Oland wants to study education at Hood College.

Oland says he has experience juggling lots of different priorities. In his last three years of high school, he balanced studies with a job at Lohr’s Family Restaurant in Frederick. For the last four years, he also taught Sunday school at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

‘‘I offer a type of experience that no other candidate has,” said Oland who attended six Frederick County public schools in the last 13 years.

As a student who recently completed his education in the county school system, Oland said he can shed light on the system’s successes and shortcomings with a fresh perspective.

As a student, he experienced the portables and all the other problems of the aging and crowded Linganore High School. He wants to make sure that other students in Frederick County will have to repeat his path.

‘‘When you go to that school you see the effects of the decisions of the Board of Education,” said Oland, who last year spoke to the Frederick Board of County Commissioners about the problems at his school.

Oland said he wants to ensure that the system has better funding management, especially when it comes to school construction and renovation. He also wants to increase community involvement in education and ensure a safe school environment for every student in the system.

The 19-year-old also supports the idea of giving a student board member partial voting rights.

Finally, Oland believes the system should pay attention to all safety issues at schools — from reducing bullying and violence to providing clean and inviting school buildings.

‘‘I think it’s sad that we have to have police officers in our schools,” he said. ‘‘It may sound utopian, but if we start programs like Character Counts for students at earlier age, then maybe one day we may not need them anymore.”

Robert Oland

Age: 19

Residence: Frederick

Education: Attends Frederick Community College; 2007 graduate of Linganore High School

Personal information: single

Web Site: www.olandforeducation.com