Bennie Tignor, a junior at South Lakes High School, has been elected 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.
He fills the position currently held by Niharika Vattikonda, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The student representative is elected by the countywide Student Advisory Council. Tignor will be the 48th student representative to the School Board.
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.”
Tignor 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 (PBL), he has spoken in favor of a broader use of PBL both to FCPS instructional personnel and at a regional PBL 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.”
Currently, Tigner is president of the German Honor Society. 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. 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. Tignor mentors third and sixth grade students at Terraset Elementary every week, and formerly volunteered at Frying Pan Park.