by Adelle Johnson
Former Arundel High School student, Bunmi Omisore served as the 48th student member of the board of education (SMOB) for Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) during the 2021-2022 school year, and is the first student board member from Arundel in 17 years.
Omisore said she first became aware of the SMOB position in her junior year (when she campaigned and was eventually elected) through her friend Drake Smith, who was also her predecessor. As a person who was already actively involved in her community at Arundel and AACPS as a whole, Omisore felt that taking on the role as SMOB was a way for her to amplify her impact.
“I had done a lot of stuff in the school system, and so when I had learned that AACPS is the only board that has a full voting student member on its board of education I figured, if I want to take what I do to the next step and it’s within reach, I might as well take it,” Omisore said.
Some of her main initiatives upon entering the role were to accomplish accessible menstrual products in county schools, promote an LGBTQ studies course, diversify the curriculum, and secure activity buses for high schools.
As her term as student member of the board came to a close, Omisore was reflective upon her accomplishments concerning those goals, and what she went through to make them a reality. In her AP English Literature class, for instance, Omisore remarked that she could clearly feel the impact of her curriculum diversification objective, an impact which she says extends to English classes in 10th and 11th grade as well.
Emphasizing this, Omisore said, “In my Lit class I was reading books that I read in my own free time, so to get to do it and read it for a grade was really fun.”
She also said that an LGBTQ studies course is set to launch during the 2023-2024 school year.
Further, in May 2022, Omisore achieved what she regards as “one of the happiest moments of [her] term” when her amendment to HB 205 to secure free menstrual products in schools was funded with over $2 million dollars. Per the amendment to HB 205, free menstrual products have been made available in schools beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Omisore says this accomplishment is especially valuable due to the long lasting impact it will have on students across the county.
“My menstrual product thing, that was something I really wanted to pass. I had to lobby people, I had to work to get the money to make that a reality, and now it is and I can say out of everything I ever did, that’s a legacy that’s gonna stay with us in AACPS,” she said.
Despite having strong ambition and dedication to her commitments as student member of the board, Omisore said that the position still had its challenges. For instance, her schedule was very involved. Omisore said that she had to take a half schedule for school in order to accommodate all of her SMOB activities. Whether she was visiting various schools across the county, meeting with superintendent Dr. George Arlotto, or at board of education meetings, Omisore was always busy.
The SMOB said that the end of the week was her chance to just be a student: “Fridays I’m usually off, and so I get to go back to being a senior.”
Insight about the demands of the SMOB position can also be found in Omisore’s message to her successors.
“Remember why you ran,” Omisore urges future SMOBs. “You’re going to be caught with a lot of different things either from other politicians in the county, other SMOBs across the state or across the country. There’s going to be a lot of people that want you to do things but you have to remember why you ran and make sure that you stick to doing what you said you would do.”
Nevertheless, Omisore embraced her position and appreciates how it has given her a new perspective. After moving to the Arundel area from Baltimore, she said she noticed that “the Arundel area, it’s very community centered. A lot of people that live here, their parents went to Arundel, their grandparents went to Arundel.”
While it was nice to be a part of the Arundel community, Omisore said, she did not want to get stuck in a “bubble” of perspective. She said that her experience on the Board of Education helped her to broaden her point of view.
“By getting to visit different schools, getting to talk to different students that call other places in our county home, I got to see the diversity,” she said. “And it was really nice to not only see Arundel as a community but Anne Arundel County as a community as well.”
As her term neared its close, Omisore’s advice to students was to not be afraid to take risks.
“The only thing that is certain is failure, if you don’t try,” she said. “Always apply, always speak your mind, always take a chance because you really have no idea what will happen unless you actually take that step forward.”