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Merrimack Valley

March 13, 2013

Mezzina says 'passion' drives his candidacy

NORTH ANDOVER — Mark Mezzina, a candidate for a School Committee seat in the March 26 election, said he has a “passion for public service.”

That’s what drives him in his campaign for the position, he said. He estimated he has knocked on 1,500 doors and expects to approach many more between now and election day.

Mezzina is 19 and will turn 20 on May 18. What does he say to people who suggest he’s too young and inexperienced? His opponent, Zora Warren, 38, has several years of middle school teaching experience and is the mother of two children who attend the North Andover schools.

Mezzina, who completed his freshman year at the University of South Carolina and plans to resume his college studies at UMass-Lowell in the fall, has a ready answer. A month ago, he said, he spoke to Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson.

The superintendent, he said, told him that the job of a School Committee member is “not to be a PhD in education,” but to be a “representative of the public” in making policy. Mezzina said his fairly recent transition from high school senior to college freshman will be an asset to the school board.

“It’s important to have as many perspectives on the School Committee as possible,” he said. During his campaign, Mezzina said he has heard the concerns residents have about the School Committee and local public education.

There’s a perception, he said, that the committee “doesn’t make enough of an active effort to include the public in decision making.” As an example, he mentioned the immense protest from parents several weeks ago when the board was considering adopting standards-based grading, which would have replaced the traditional A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and F’s with numbers.

If there had been more public involvement in that process, he said, the plan probably would have been dropped long before large numbers of parents voiced their objections to the School Committee.

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