[photogallerylink id=113125 align=left]A unique move by the students of the magnet school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology…a white student has been elected as the PRESIDENT of the school’s Black Student Union.
WJLA has reported that Michael Wattendorf, 17, a senior at TJ, said the reason he won was because the students who voted were not focused on his race, rather, they were focused on his accomplishments.
For instance, he developed a “mentoring program for children in high-minority population schools in Fairfax County.”
Wattendorf’s presidency is not currently an issue at the school; nonetheless, it was strange for students at first.
African American member of the club, Howard Small, 17, did not vote for Wattendorf and said presidency was “weird and diffucult” to accept:
“”It was weird and difficult to accept. We’ve had other white members and [non-blacks], but having a white person as our leader? I didn’t know how to feel about it.”
In addition to his new victory, Wattendorf recently won “the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, which rewards high-schoolers who work towards bridging racial divides.” Wattendorf reported to the Washington Post the $1,000 prize will be given to the club.
WJLA wrote about how Wattendorf got involved with the Union:
The new president was a sophomore when he joined the Black Student Union. He became interested in the club when a cross-country teammate, who was already in the Black Student Union “showed him how to dance as part of the club’s upcoming talent show act. Wattendorf became increasingly interested and ended up performing in the show.”
The honor is so astonishing because, according to the Post, TJ has been working hard to increase its “enrollment of African American and Hispanic students.”
School Stats according to WJLA:
Of the 1,800 students who attended TJ last year, only 34 were black and 42 were Hispanic. The majority of the students were Asian (906) and white (787).
Nevertheless, Small and other students have acknowledged that Wattendorf’s ideas have led them to supporting the white president:
“He’s been really good as president, we’re all okay with it now.”