Maryland SMOB Finalist: Kevin Bokoum

By Joy Jiang and Eileen Luo




Introduction


Kevin Bokoum is a junior at North Hagerstown High School in Washington County, and is one of two candidates for Maryland Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB). Currently serving as the Washington County SMOB, Bokoum has a background in student advocacy and leadership.

“As Washington County SMOB, I’ve had the pleasure of working with enormously capable students from around the entire state, and country, even,” Bokoum said. “I wanted to run for SMOB to continue that passion for leadership, and to ensure that I bring equity and justice [to] the Maryland Board of Education.”

Photo from Kevin4smob.com

Combating Inequity

The main issue that Bokoum hopes to address is the inequities of the Maryland school system, including “antisemitism, [AAPI] hatred, the shootings of black Americans, [and the] disproportionate representation in prisons.”

Part of addressing inequity is Bokoum’s goal to help ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) students. In the past, as the Washington County SMOB, he has pushed for more funding and resources for ESOL programs, as well as for more ESOL student representation in advocacy, as he believes “ESOL students should have equitable representation when it comes to important issues that affect them.”

Bokoum also supports diversifying school curriculums to include different perspectives throughout history, adding representation of people of color and their culture and struggles.

In light of the recent attacks on Asian Americans, he believes that representation has become especially necessary. “Schools are the first line of defense,” Bokoum said. “We need to educate our kids from a very young age about different cultures, and really integrate that in our schools.”


Other Issues


Bokoum believes that students should return to schools while implementing the appropriate health and safety measures.


“[My goal is] ensuring that, as students are returning to schools… there’s proper communication,” he said. “That will help ensure that schools reopen up [safely]. And ensuring that there’s adequate [personal protective equipment for schools].”


Though he believes that it is important to get students back into schools for more successful learning to take place, Bokoum also believes “we still must be mindful of COVID-19, and we must have proper quarantine procedures and contact tracing.”


Bokoum has also advocated for school infrastructure improvements at the countywide level, and hopes to bring his advocacy to the state board.

As SMOB, Bokoum will continue the current SMOB’s system of the Student Council to get input from students about what other items his campaign should focus on.


Conclusion


Kevin Bokoum is a junior at North Hagerstown High School. As SMOB, he will focus on promoting equity, helping out ESOL programs, and improving Maryland school infrastructures.


To learn more about his campaign, visit: https://www.bokoumforsmob.com/