Photo Essay: MASC Convenes in Ocean City

Photo Essay: MASC Convenes in Ocean City

MASC stands for the Maryland Association of Student Councils. The MASC unites student councils across Maryland, empowering student leaders from public and private schools. They champion student rights and well-being through conferences, workshops, and communication with policymakers. MASC fosters a network where student voices are heard, leadership skills are developed, and representation is ensured. By providing resources, advocating for student interests, and nominating students for key positions, MASC works to create a positive impact on the lives of Maryland’s secondary school students. Each year, they hold numerous conferences, and one special one is held in Ocean City, MD. At this conference, attendees will vote on state SMOB nominees, MASC officers for the next school year, bills and legislation that MASC is working on, and generally get educated on different topics at student-led workshops. 

MASC president Angelina Xu, senior at Richard Montgomery HS, addresses student delegates for the last general assembly of the convention. Many of Xu’s duties aligned with the planning of these assemblies, something she considers a highlight of her experience. “I’d say my biggest responsibility was writing the scripts for the general assemblies, which were so much fun to attend,” Xu said, “For students, they’re a snapshot into the civic engagement process and really becomes a launching point for if they want to vote in general elections or get involved in state or national politics.”

Nico D’Orazio, senior at Wootton HS, has gone to the last two MASC conventions. He is an active student advocate, involved with many county-wide organizations. “You gather with over 800 other students to join together in leadership, advocacy, and student government, learning from people all across Maryland. MASC convention is truly magical and I cant quite pinpoint anything to improve about it. I guess the only thing I would change is instead of making it 3 days, make it 5 days so there’s even more time to join together in advocacy with students across the state,” D’Orazio said.

Abby Mizan, sophomore at Montgomery Blair HS, poses in front of Ocean City Beach at sunset. Mizan, a candidate for the 1st Vice President position, has had immense fun at convention. “The highlight of my experience was, by far, getting to witness the diversity of students and the issues that they advocated for,” Mizan said, “I’m so grateful to have been accepted by this community and encouraged while running.” Mizan would also consider the beach a high point of her time at convention. “I can’t say I had a favorite event, but I definitely did enjoy getting my shoes filled with sand on the beach. We were on the verge of hypothermia, but it was so beautiful.”

Sophie Nguyen, junior at Rockville HS, presents a Civics workshop at the MASC Convention along with MASC Treasurer Lumina Zhang. Nguyen serves as the secretary for the Montgomery County Regional SGA, devoting her time at MASC to educating students on legislative processes as well as the election of SMOBs. “I worked with my amazing co-presenter, Lumina Zhang, to create an interactive experience for the participants. We decided to present a workshop together this year, because we actually presented back when we were in middle school. We worked for around two weeks to create the visuals, run through the premade workshop outline, and do last-minute preparations to set up the room. While it was hectic to do all of this in a short time frame, what really made up for it was getting to meet students all across Maryland and having fun during the workshop. I think a lot of people initially came into the room thinking that it was going to be a boring workshop, but we wanted to change that perspective and make it a fun learning experience where everyone could get involved with the legislative process,” Nguyen said.

Motivational speaker Logan Taylor looks out into the audience during the fourth general assembly. Taylor spoke several times throughout the convention, sharing the struggles of his early life and, inspirationally, how he’d overcome them. He left with students the wisdom that putting in work will always prove fruitful for them.

Shella Cherry serves as the Director of Student Leadership and Extracurriculars in MCPS. She is in charge of organizing the field trip experience for MCPS students, taking care of charter buses, field trip forms, communication with schools, food, safety, security, chaperones, and much more. “The MASC Convention is a unique experience where student leaders from all across the state engage in leadership learning, advocacy training, and networking across the county lines. This is my 7th year supporting MCR as their advisor and my 5th with the MASC Convention.. This year we had 104 students and staff in attendance, the most we have had in my 7 years. I am thrilled for the growth of MCPS’s participation at the state level,” Cherry said.

Sam Ross, junior at Blair HS, works on project alongside group members during a Civics workshop. Ross is currently a finalist candidate for the 2024-2025 MCPS SMOB. “This is my third year going to MASC convention..It’s always been a really fun experience to get connect with student leaders from across the whole state..I also present workshops, it’s always very fun to get to present workshops and learn more about other aspects of student leadership. I didn’t campaign [at the convention], I more just focused on getting to learn more and getting to enjoy being around so many other student leaders,” Ross said.

Pia Loren Lim, senior at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Baltimore County, performs at the MASC talent show as the first place winner. Lim has been singing for quite a while, since she was just 3 years old. “I had such an amazing time at the MASC field trip! I loved meeting new people and getting closer with members of my SGA. It was so interesting hearing the speeches and Q+A section..And performing for the talent show is something I will always treasure doing.. I currently go to George Washington Carver Center and study vocal performance. I think MASC was probably one of the largest crowds I’ve ever performed for so it was super nerve wracking but also really fun..Because I’m a senior, this was my first and last year to be able to go, so I’m really happy about my experience,” Lim said.

MASC treasurer Lumina Zhang, junior at Winston Churchill high school, talks to Urbana middle school students Inara Harris, Caitlin Jones, Ethan Xu, and Mikayla Torres about her upcoming project, the FUNdrive. “As MASC Treasurer, I’m hosting a FUNDrive fundraiser where participants collect clothing/small household goods and bring the donations to MASC’s Spring Leadership Conference. The donations will go to a thrift shop to help the community and our environment! FUNDrive will also give MASC a financial donation which makes this a great fundraiser as well. At Convention, I passed out flyers and bags for participants to pack donations,” Zhang said.

Jordan Hayes, junior at Patuxent HS in Calvert County, participates in the question & answer segment of MASC’s evaluation of her and Abhiram Gaddam. Both of these state SMOB candidates were exceptional, and were nominated as the top two by voters at the convention. Gaddam was later chosen by the governor as the official state SMOB for the 2024 – 2025 school year. “This campaign has reminded me why I do what I do and put in such effort to the students of Maryland. I have discovered my passion through my experience in student leadership, and that is something I am forever grateful for,” Hayes said.

Joanna Tsidiq votes for the next MASC officers. Per the tradition instated so many years ago, student delegates voted for the candidates through a ranked-choice voting system. This gave many students insight into voting and civic engagement.

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