A black student club at a Virginia school has elected a white student as its leader, raising questions about the state of minority enrollment, officials say.
The demographic makeup last year at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, known as "TJ" among its 1,800 students, was 906 Asians, 787 whites, 42 Hispanics and 34 blacks.
The Washington Post said to some, Michael Wattendorf, the white senior running the Black Student Union is symbolic of the school's lack of diversity.
"If you have a black-student union and the person who is over it is white … what does that say? The pool [of black students] is not that large there," said Charisse Glassman, chairwoman of the Fairfax County NAACP's education committee. "A white person cannot understand what black children are going though when they go to that school."
To those looking at Wattendorf's presidency from another angle, one concludes the school's black students were disposed to look beyond race, the Post said.
"It's a great reflection on the people who voted for me. They didn't let race be a factor in their voting -- they voted on the merits of my ideas," said Wattendorf, 17, who won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, a $1,000 award handed out by university alumni in recognition of those seeking to improve racial harmony.
Howard Small, a 17-year-old black junior and member of the Black Student Union, said Wattendorf's win was "weird and difficult to accept" at first."
"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," said Small, who did not vote for Wattendorf but said he has come around.
"We're all OK with it now," Small said.