The first candidate to announce a run for local election this year is still not old enough for a champagne toast if he wins.
Mark Mezzina, 19, has taken out nomination papers to run for a School Committee seat in the election scheduled for March 26.
Mezzina, who was raised in North Andover, was a college student at the University of South Carolina before moving back to town and plans to continue college locally. He recently worked for Karin Rhoton's campaign when she ran for state representative.
"I'm running for School Committee because as a young man, I am heavily invested in the future of our town, and I believe that we need an open, transparent government, and that we should always focus on the academic excellence of our students."
One issue he hopes to address is the new -- and somewhat controversial -- standards-based grading system being implemented in North Andover schools. With this type of system, Instead of the traditional A-F grading system, teachers report progress in detailed analysis of what a child has learned relating to state standards and tailor educational targets based on that as well.
Many parents in town have expressed frustration and confusion over this new system.
"We do need to combat the issue of grade inflation, which seems to have been the catalyst for the new standard-based system, but it's not necessary to overhaul our entire system of reporting," Mezzina said. "And while it is a step in the right direction that the School Committee held an open forum last week, I believe that the next time a significant change is being discussed, there should be an open forum before the change is implemented."
Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson participated in a Patch Live Chat in August and discussed the new grading system, saying that such a system offers more insight into a student's educational progress.
Mezzina did not attend North Andover schools -- he graduated from Austin Prep in Reading -- but he says he still has a personal interest in the School Committee and public schools' operations.
"I did not personally attend North Andover High, but I have three siblings in the school system right now," Mezzina said. "I am just as interested in their success as I would be if I had kids in the schools. I have lived in North Andover for my entire life. I was involved in youth sports in this town for many years, I have always attended church in this town. North Andover is a big part of who I am, so I don't see those things as being problems."