Benjamin (Bennie) Tignor, a junior at South Lakes High School, has been elected by the countywide Student Advisory Council (SAC) to serve a one-year term as student representative to the Fairfax County School Board, beginning July 1.
Tignor will participate in School Board meetings as a nonvoting member, filling the position currently held by Niharika Vattikonda, a senior at TJHSST. He will be the 48th student representative to the School Board.
According to Fairfax County Public Schools’ newsletter, Tignor says he hopes to use his position to facilitate “a two-way flow of information, not only from student to Board, but from Board to student. This ensures that students understand that there are representatives who hear their voices, and although they may be limited by budget or policy restrictions, are working to improve the average student’s life.
“Maintaining the student voice and ensuring it is heard is crucial to fostering the high academic standards, healthy and ethical lives, and responsibility the School Board aims to inspire within the student body,” he adds. “I feel it is my duty, as a member of the Fairfax County student body, to project the voices of my peers to those who can interpret and take initiative on their behalf. At times, students feel that individually their voice does not have an impact … I would be able to ensure these voices are heard.”
HE LISTS four main issues as priorities for the School Board, including: school safety in response to school shootings, school workload and pressure toward International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) diplomas, the ability of students to present feedback on issues that directly impact the student body, and methods of teaching and personal learning within advanced courses.
Tignor says he wants to advocate for new methods of learning that will accommodate all of the ways students learn while allowing for “a broader expression of learning styles” in the classroom.
As an advocate for project-based learning, he has spoken in favor of a broader use of project-based learning both to FCPS instructional personnel and at a regional project-based learning conference, saying that it “allows the individual to express his or her method of learning in the best way that suits them, incentivizing innovation and the freedom to enjoy what you produce as a student.”
Tignor believes his work in leadership positions at South Lakes and the initiative he has taken in these positions have prepared him to serve as the Student Representative to the School Board. He currently serves as president of the German Honor Society and, in his leadership class, helped increase participation in the school’s character education program (Scholarship, Ownership, Awareness, and Respect) by 220 percent in less than half a semester. He also helped design and execute the Terraset Workshop, which was recently recognized by the Virginia Student Councils Association.
AT SOUTH LAKES, Tignor has taken honors courses in algebra, biology, English, world history and geography, U.S. and Virginia government; IB courses in chemistry, math, history of the Americas, English literature, biology, physics, and German; and classes in German, orchestra, leadership, and stem engineering. He has been on the All A Honor Roll from 2015-17, and is a varsity lacrosse player.
Tignor is also a member of the National Honor Society and the Interact (Rotary) Club. He took first place in the Biomedical Engineering category of the Regional Science Fair this year for his entry, The Effects of Concentrations of Immobilized Enzymes on the Rate of Enzymatic Activity, which also won a first place award from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Society. He has earned Gold Awards on the National German Examination for the past three years, and served internships at the BMW M division design studio and Brainlab Headquarters, both in Munich. Tignor mentors third and sixth grade students at Terraset Elementary every week, and formerly volunteered at Frying Pan Park.