Local student is honorary “Page for a Day”
By Jan White
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Quest Academy student Georgia Cate Calvert had the opportunity to serve as an Honorary Senate Page for Senator Robert Nichols at the State Capitol building in Austin.
Georgia Cate had this to say about her experience. “At the beginning of the school year, Trent Ashby came to our school to donate an American flag.” She was so excited to see him in person that one of her friends suggested she might like to be an honorary Page. Her response was, “Yeah, that would be fun to go to the Capitol building and meet important people.”
Kathi Calvert, Georgia Cate’s mom and Houston County Electric Cooperative’s general manager, is quite familiar with visits to the state capitol. She thought it would be a good experience for her daughter because she likes serving in student government.
Georgia Cate has been on the student council at Quest Academy since the third grade when she became her class representative. “The next year, I was treasurer. I ran for president,” she said, “but 10 kids ran for president, so I didn’t make it.” This year, she is the Student Council Parliamentarian.
The Honorary Senate Page for a Day program falls under the auspices of the Sergeant-at-Arms. Becoming a Page can provide students with insights into the lawmaking procedures for the State of Texas. Students must be at least eight years old and no older than eighteen to participate in the program.
Typically the page responsibilities include delivering correspondence and legislative material in the Capitol and Senate buildings.
Occasionally they carry bills and amendments to the desks and help prepare
the Chamber for Senate sessions. Pages can also help with rudimentary office duties such as making copies, faxing, or filing.
Georgia Cate said that her experience as a Page was fun. “I was probably the only elementary-aged kid there. And I was the only girl,” she said. “All the others were teenage boys. We got to walk around the building delivering messages around the offices. We would take letters or notes to different offices. If they had a return message or paper, we’d take it back for them. Then we’d wait until we got another job.”
Assignments are in three-hour shifts from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Honorary Pages must be accompanied by a senate messenger, and they are expected to stay with that messenger during their service as a Page. Georgia Cate said she was accompanied by a messenger named Nick. She thought that it was particularly cool that she got to hang around college kids, and that “they actually listened to me and didn’t treat me like a little kid.”
The day Georgia Cate served as an Honorary Page, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas was recognized as part of the Tribe’s Capitol Day. The Tribal Council, who had traveled from their Reservation near Livingston, was recognized from the floor of the Senate by Senator Robert Nichols and from the floor of the Texas House of Representatives by Representative Trent Ashby. Afterward, the Tribe hosted a lunch on Capitol grounds, where they performed several traditional dances.
“I got to meet some of the tribe,” said Georgia Cate. “[Lieutenant Governor] Dan Patrick was there. And there were so many people in suits. There were desks for all the senators, and we put the stuff they needed to read on the desks.”
One of the highlights of the trip was that Georgia Cate got to tour the Capitol. She was particularly impressed by the rotunda dome. “I got to go up to the top floor to look at it,” she said. “Did you know that the big star at the top is surrounded by letters that spell out ‘Texas’?”
Georgia Cate said that she might be interested in working as a Senate Page full-time if she attends college in the area. “I want to go to SMU or MIT because I want to major in science. But if I went to college in Austin, then yes, I’d probably like to do it.”
Ms. Calvert said the best way to find out about the Honorary Page opportunities is to contact Senator Robert Nichols’s office, which will schedule a day for your child to attend. The Sergeant of Arms office recommends scheduling your child’s service on days that the Senators will be on the Senate floor. Spring Break fills up quickly, so the office suggests that parents or guardians submit requests for that week as early as possible. The first two weeks of the session, Jan. 10 through Jan. 20, and the last two weeks, May 15 through May 29, are closed, and Honorary Pages will not be scheduled on those days.
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