From the South Orange-Maplewood School District:
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. – Two Columbia High School (CHS) 11th-graders, Gwyneth Brown and Asa Glassman, have been sworn in as student representatives to the Board of Education for the 2023-2024 school year. Both were elected by CHS students in June.
“Our new student representatives to the Board of Education will provide District students a direct line to the board,” said Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, Superintendent of the School District of South Orange and Maplewood. “At the same time, they will serve as an additional way for the board members and the administration to keep in touch with our students, know what their concerns are, and be more responsive to them. We congratulate Gwyneth and Asa, and we are very proud of them for choosing to serve their fellow students.”
“The South Orange & Maplewood Board of Education takes pride in its student representation, which serves as a testament to the high value that both the Board and our community place on the voices of our students,” said Board of Education President Kaitlin Wittleder. “Today, we are delighted to extend our warmest congratulations to Gwyneth Brown and Asa Glassman on their being sworn in as student representatives to the Board of Education. Their exceptional leadership in advocating for the needs of the SOMSD student body is inspiring to all of us. We eagerly anticipate collaborating closely with them as we collectively strive to ensure that the Board’s decisions foster positive and impactful changes in the lives of our students.”
“I am thrilled to have Gwyneth Brown and Asa Glassman as our Student Representatives,” said Board of Education Vice-President Nubia DuVall Wilson. “I have no doubt that they will contribute greatly to the ongoing efforts of the District and the Board of Education, and I look forward to working with them in partnership over the next year.”
Asa Glassman was sworn in by Business Administrator Eric Burnside at the Board of Education’s regular meeting on Thursday. Glassman was born in Maplewood and has attended schools in the South Orange & Maplewood School District (SOMSD) all of his life.
Glassman said he is considering entering business or law career paths.
“Some of what I hope to accomplish is better guidance for students in the college/post-Columbia experience, and well as making the district as a whole a better-suited environment for its students,” Glassman said. “This means the actual environment, such as climate control and the state of the school, but also the metaphorical environment: transparency with the students, and a safe space for all students to learn with equal opportunity.”
Glassman is a competitive three-season, varsity runner on the CHS Cross Country and Track & Field Teams. In 2022, Glassman won the Most Valuable Player Award on his team. He is also currently serving as president of the Columbia High School Asian American Student Alliance, a club he has been involved with since 2021. He has also served as secretary of the Class of 2025 on the CHS Student Council. Glassman said he is considering entering business or law career paths.
Among Glassman’s community service activities are working as a counselor in training at the South Mountain YMCA’s summer camp for elementary school-aged children, and volunteering to host trivia games and play piano for the residents of the Lester Senior Housing Community in East Hanover. He is also a certified lifeguard who has worked at the Maplewood Country Club.
Gwyneth Brown, who was sworn in on August 24th, was born in Elk Grove Village, IL, a suburb of Chicago. Her family moved to Maplewood when she was in the fourth grade, and she attended South Mountain Elementary School and South Orange Middle School before attending the high school.
Brown aspires to have a career in business, with a particular interest in private equity, venture capital, and investment banking.
“I have always been very interested in the school board and district policy,” Brown said about her decision to run for the position. “I felt that the BOE representative position was the best opportunity for me to execute the change desired by the student body.”
Among Brown’s goals for her term is to give her insights through social media and emails on the actions of the Board and the District, and what they are doing for students and the community. She also hopes to increase opportunities for students at Columbia High School.
“I hope to accomplish this through additional work and intern opportunities, increased counseling support, and more emphasis on college visits,” she said. “My overall goal, however, is to vouch for District students in whatever way necessary and invoke positive change to continue to make the District a safe and supportive environment.”
Brown served as treasurer on the CHS Student Council last year, and she has written and edited stories for The Columbian, CHS’s student newspaper, and she is a leader of the Women In Power Club.
Her community service activities include working as a tutor of English, math, and Spanish with the Achieve Foundation, and working as a summer camp counselor for girls between the ages of two and six.
Both Brown and Glassman were among the first speakers at the District’s Convocation on September 6th, which was the first in-person convocation since 2019.
The creation of the board’s student-representative position is in keeping with a state law signed by Governor Philip Murphy in January 2022. The law requires every school district with a high school to include at least one student representative as a nonvoting member. Student representatives can be appointed or elected by the student body and serve one-year terms, according to the legislation.