Monticello student Criselia Salas shares her experience as a state senate Page in hopes of getting other students to think about applying for the program.
Where do you go to school? Monticello Middle School.
What grade are you in at Monticello? Eighth.
How were you chosen to be a senate page? I was recommended by Mrs. Davis, so I filled out the papers. My mom said it would be a great opportunity for me to see how government works, so I read through it and was kind of interested.
Why weren’t you very interested? Because I am not really into political stuff, I am more a math person.
Where did you send the application? We emailed it to 19th district State Senator Dean Takko.
How did you find out you were selected? They sent me an acceptance letter in the mail.
How did you feel once the program started? Once it started and seeing all the action happening, seeing how it really worked; it caught my attention. Seeing how they would debate and all the action was just there and you were just into it, that the time would just pass so fast.
How many days were you up there? We were up there for a week.
What was your introduction to the process of government? They showed us around, showed us how government works.
What was the daily schedule? We would be in an office or on the floor. We had a page room, which was for catching up on our schoolwork. There was a classroom there where we learned more about the government.
What are some of the things you learned about the government? Learning about the bills was our main focus. We had to make our own bill too, and learned how a bill was processed. We had a partner, we went to one of the rooms, and acted like senators. We presented a bill in front of other pages to see if it would pass or not pass.
What was your bill about? It was about starting school later, like maybe an hour later in the day. Just moving it back a little more.
Why did you think starting school later would be good? When we did the research, we found that students, if they were to move school start time back, would sleep late and be more into school. Research showed more sleeping time would be positive since their bodies are changing.
So did your bill pass? Yes.
What were some of the tasks you were assigned and what were some of the things you experienced? It was mostly being out on the floor. We had to pass out papers to the senators. We learned their names and they would just debate on and on. We would also get to be in the legislature and see how that worked. We would hand out papers to their offices, so we would go to the Jack Building.
What did you experience at the end of your week? Towards then there was not much to do because they were off the floor, it was more like passing out notes and being in our schoolroom and doing our presentations to other senate pages.
What did you think of Senator Takko? He was funny and kind. I really enjoyed meeting him. I did not really expect that, but he had a great personality. His office was interesting. He had deer and elk hung up on his wall.
Did you meet any other senators that you liked? I would talk to some but I did not catch their names. We would be talking to them on the floor starting and they would get back to their offices.
How did your last day end? It was a slow day, most everyone was able to leave at noon. We got a certificate for being senator’s pages at the capital. We earned about $200.
What will you do with all that cash? Probably by clothes and shoes for school.
As you look back on your time as a senate page, what are your thoughts? I recommend it. At first, I wasn’t sure because I am not a political person, but when I look back, I really enjoyed it. I made memories and learned how government works. At first I did not even know what bills were, once I got there I learned so much.
What was it like being away from home? It was kind of a struggle at night because I missed my family, but at the end of the week, I realized I enjoyed it. The week passes by so fast, at first you kind of worry but at the end you just want to go back and redo it.
What should I ask that I have not? There are not many students recommended for this or who know about it. They want more people to experience being a page and they do want the help. In a textbook, you do not get the caption of it all like you do when you are there. It is a great opportunity for middle and high school students and it makes you think – maybe this is what I want to do when I grow up.
Would you consider being in politics when you grow up? Maybe, I actually like debating and seeing how government works. At first, I was not interested in any of that, but after I came back, I was interested in it.
Do you know what you want to do when you grow up? I am thinking of being a doctor or maybe a lawyer, I do not know yet.
Will this experience you will help you be a more knowledgeable citizen? Yes, I really think so.
To your Mom, Mrs. Taylor – What are your thoughts on Criselia’s time as a senate page? I am just so proud of her.
Mrs. Taylor – are you glad Criselia had the opportunity to be a page? I am glad she had the opportunity. I agree with her that even if people are interested a little bit in the idea of being a senate page they need to look into so they can have that experience.
Mrs. Taylor – were you nervous about Criselia going away for a week? One of the things I noticed in her is when she left she was emotional and it was scary. She was very nervous. It was a hard decision for her. However, when she returned, she returned more mature. She came back with this great reflection, this great experience and knowledge of how our government works and why bills are so important.
Mrs. Taylor – did you encourage Criselia to go? Yes, we encouraged her to go and learn about the process, because she had no idea. When you are a mom trying to explain to her what a bill is, that is such a boring conversation. When she actually got to experience it herself she was able to have the understanding she needed to come back and grow from it, share it with others. She said she really wants her younger sister to be a page.
Mrs. Taylor – what else? I am happy she had the opportunity to learn from this experience. She did not go because her mom made her do this. She learned from the experience and did not take it for granted. I am a very proud mom.
Also, I would like to sincerely thank Mrs. Davis for her support in making this opportunity possible for Criselia. Mrs. Davis was very encouraging and amazing in helping make this process fell safe and comfortable for our family. Thank you!