Students get taste of government

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Student PagesTimbercrest Junior High eighth-graders, Anna Estabrook and Katie Kelly, recently served as pages in the Washington State House of Representatives in Olympia.

During their experience, the pair was involved in a variety of activities, including attending Page School daily to understand the operations and actions of the Legislature, participating in a mock bill exercise and delivering various documents to elected offices and staff on the floor of the House and throughout the Capitol campus.

The page program is geared towards students 14-16 years old, who must have a Legislative sponsor and permission from their schools and parents to attend.

Estabrook and Kelly were sponsored by 15th District State Representative Bruce Chandler. “I heard about the program because both my sisters did it,” says Estabrook. “It sounded interesting and I thought it would be a fun thing to do.” She adds, “A family friend helped get Katie and [me] signed up with Representative Chandler.”

The girls were part of a group of 30 students, consisting of 18 House pages and 12 Senate pages.

They enjoyed meeting the other kids, who came from all over the state to participate in the week-long program. The highlight for both was their time on the floor, listening to the debates on bills and watching their legislators in action.

“I was surprised that it was so organized,” comments Estabrook. “And I was also surprised that the caucuses could be so long. They really spent a lot of time discussing the bills.”

Kelly adds, “I was amazed at all the people involved in getting a bill passed.”

During Page School, which is taught by a certificated teacher with experience teaching civics and social studies, the students learned Legislative terminology and gained a general overview of the process by which bills become laws. Using this knowledge, they did research to create their own bills and then introduced them in mock committee hearings comprised of other pages.

Estabrook and Kelly selected high school start times as their key issue.

“We looked at other schools’ start times and also did research on the relationship between sleep and learning,” explains Estabrook. “We came to the conclusion that 8:30 a.m. would be a good time for high school to begin.” She adds, “Our bill got passed.”

The experience made both girls more informed and aware of the operations of their state government. “It was a great learning experience,” comments Kelly. “And I would definitely recommend it to others because it makes you understand what our legislators do when they’re in Olympia.”

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