Page programs give students opportunity to experience Legislature firsthand

Perhaps one of the best civic education opportunities available to young people outside of their own school are the House Page Program and the Senate Page Program.

Since 1891, young people have come to Olympia from all corners of the state to help during the busy legislative sessions as pages. Under the programs, students from the ages of 14 through 16 may be sponsored by their state representative or senator to work and study for one week in the state Legislature.

Page duties vary. Pages may be involved in ceremonial duties, such as the presentation of the flags, or they may assist by handing out amendments, bills, notes and memos on the floors of the House or Senate. They may even work in the gift shop or cafeteria.

In addition, for two hours each day, pages are educated about how legislation is crafted. At the end of the week, they hold mock legislative hearings on the bills they’ve written.

Pages work directly with elected state lawmakers and witness bills being proposed, debated and passed.

Both programs are unique opportunities for young people to experience lawmaking firsthand. Besides the educational and fun experience, they are also paid $35 a day for their services.

Pages live with host families in Olympia-area neighborhoods for the week they serve. The cost of this housing varies, but for low-income students, a scholarship program is available to help offset those costs.

Washington has what may be one of the longest and most successful legislative pages programs on the West Coast. It gives students an up-close view of their state government, while offering them the ability to exercise leadership skills and meet students and legislators from all corners of the state. Some elected state lawmakers even served in the Legislature many years ago as pages.

For more information about the House Page Program and Senate Page Program, and other civic education programs at the Legislature, visit: http://leg.wa.gov/civiced/Pages/default.aspx

To find your state lawmaker, visit: http://houserepublicans.wa.gov/find-your-district/