CLAY COUNTY – In 2009, the Children’s Home Society of Florida wanted to provide students, through its own or Community Partnership Schools, an opportunity to attend the Senate Page …
CLAY COUNTY – In 2009, the Children’s Home Society of Florida wanted to provide students, through its own or Community Partnership Schools, an opportunity to attend the Senate Page Program.
The program allows junior and senior high students to experience the state’s legislative process firsthand as senate pages. They have provided 120 students with the opportunity and continue to do so. “We have 15 this year that will be serving in those nine weeks,” Summer Pfeiffer, Vice President of Governmental Relations, said.
Paige Wilkinson from Keystone Heights High and Rachelle Simmons from Orange Park High were two students who recently attended the Senate Page Program in Tallahassee.
“It provided me with an irreplaceable experience that I could hold into for the rest of my life,” Wilkinson said.
The program includes a five-day stay in the state’s capitol. Wilkinson and Simmons stayed either with a host family that the Children’s Home Society coordinated or at a hotel with a family member. The students toured the capitol’s museums, spoke with senators, and attended committee meetings. In addition, they learned about creating bills and amendments, campaigns, and the Senate’s protocols. They also assisted the senators on the state senate floor, which involved delivering and taking messages, fetching bottled water or completing deliveries. Students were allowed to choose a collective topic to make bills and amendments before presenting them in a mock session at the end of the week.
“It was really exciting,” Simmons said. “It really made me look at bills and laws with a deeper lens.”
After attending the Senate Page Program, Wilkinson and Simmons found the experience to be educational and influential.
“It affected my view on government, and it helped me understand the process that I hope to be a part of someday,” Wilkinson said. In addition, they would recommend other students to apply whether they are planning to enter political science or not. “It’s one of those programs where you think you know a lot of things, but there is always some new nuance,” Simmons said.
Justin Smith from Orange Park High is currently attending the program as a page.
For more information about the Senate Page program, visit senatepages.flsenate.gov/, or to contribute visit, chsfl.org/advocate/.