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A Glimpse of the Government

Why Students Should Page at the Senate 

Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

One advantage of living in Florida's capital, Tallahassee, is that students have the chance to work in correspondence with the Florida state legislature. The Florida Senate Page Program is the opportunity to assist Senators in the Senate Chamber during legislative session. The legislative session is a 60-day period where the Senate and the House of Representatives create state laws. Along with assisting the senators, students get the opportunity to learn about civics through mock committees and mock sessions. I had the opportunity to page at the Senate during the last week of session, and I recommend this program to anyone, no matter what they are interested in. Since the Florida Senate Page program is local to Tallahassee, Maclay students should take advantage of this easy access and become involved.

The ability to be on the floor during session is an experience students can only get from paging. Paging at the Senate consists of delivering materials, preparing the chamber for session and transporting bills and amendments to the desk within the Capitol complex. The bills being discussed in the chamber during session are significant because they are Florida's future laws. Oftentimes, senators debate these bills and conversations can become intense. During my time in the chamber, I observed a passionate debate that resulted in a 12-28 vote, which is significant because the voting was perfectly divided by the Democrats and Republicans. During this time, the senators get the chance to talk to pages and sign their autographs. Seeing our state laws pass or fail, hearing the debates and meeting the senators is an irreplaceable experience. In the time spent in the Chamber, pages get to gain insight on the laws, see which senators have the greatest influence during debates and connect with both peers and senators which can be beneficial in future careers.

Along with insightful experience on the floor, pages also get a valuable learning experience outside of the chamber. The pages receive civics lessons and learn about the functions of the state government. Pages also get to participate in mock committees and sessions, where they can run for Senate President, and the runner-up becomes the President Pro Tempore. In these assemblies, pages perform mock committees, where they draft up a pretend bill and attempt to have it “passed” by the support of other pages. After the mock committees, the pretend bills are taken to the mock session, where they are debated and either pass or fail into law. Learning about the government through lessons and mock legislation was not only memorable but a lot of fun and a great way to connect with peers.

During the week, pages encounter many influential people whom they may not have been able to meet otherwise. From lobbyists, interns, the senate president, lawyers, senators, to even the Florida governor, there are significant leaders to meet almost everywhere in the capitol complex. The most memorable person pages get to meet is Gov. Ron Desantis. The meeting is very brief, but it is still a pivotal moment to meet such a distinguished leader. 

Not all high schoolers are interested in government, nonetheless missing a whole week of school. Despite this, no matter what a student is interested in, learning about the government is still a valuable experience. In the government realm, there are people of all different careers and paths that one can learn from. Also, even if a student doesn't want to pursue a career in the government path, learning about government is valuable because it's important to be aware of politics and learn how to vote appropriately. Additionally, the majority of teachers are aware of what the paging program is and will understand the absence as long as you communicate with them ahead of time. Missing a whole week is manageable because you know far ahead of time and can plan ahead. On top of that, pages get to choose if they want to be rewarded with $250 or 40 service hours to reimburse them for the time spent away from school. 

Paging at the Senate is an irreplaceable experience where students get a glimpse of Florida's government. The learning element gained from paging is extremely valuable, as well as the relationships you get to build with people from all over Florida. Maclay students should take advantage of this local opportunity and serve our state legislature. 


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Andy Poll

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