Last week, North Lincoln High School student Libby Henderson, along with 10 other North Carolina students, had the opportunity to experience the inner workings of state politics firsthand.
A rising sophomore, Henderson spent last week at the legislative building in Raleigh, assisting House and Senate legislators during the state’s General Assembly session.
Currently serving as the student government class president at school, Henderson has been fascinated with the role of government and politics for many years.
“My family goes to D.C. every summer and tours the government buildings and museums,” she said. “I always thought it would be interesting to pursue a job where you’re making a difference for the lives around you.”
According to Henderson, she and her mother had been looking into National Page summer programs earlier in the year. However, being only 15 years old, she was not qualified to apply. But, through continued research, Henderson learned of the state’s page program and was eager to apply.
According to the North Carolina General Assembly website, high school students between the ages of 15-18 or those currently in the ninth grade are eligible to work as a house page. Candidates are required to be in good standing with their schools and must be sponsored by a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives.
“I wrote a letter to Rep. Jason Saine expressing my interest (in the program),” she said. “My Sunday School teacher, Tim Shain, is friends with Rep. Saine, so he basically served as a reference.”
As a house page, Henderson was required to attend and work the House daily sessions and committee meetings, perform miscellaneous office duties and run errands for the members and staff. Rather than being assigned to shadow one representative, an average of 30 pages work together as a team to serve all 120 members of the House and staff.
“As a page, I was responsible for attending all of the meetings for the House representatives,” Henderson said. “Anytime a representative needed something, we would do it for them so they wouldn’t miss anything during the meeting.
“It was interesting to see the types of decisions they have to make for our state,” she said. “I don’t think people realize how long the meetings can be and how big the decisions are that they have to make.”
While Henderson and her fellow house pages worked hard during their eight-hour work days, the group had a few moments throughout the week to socialize.
“Because there were only 10 of us and it was their last week in session, the house pages occasionally had some down time,” she said. “One time, we were given a packet of North Carolina trivia and competed to see which team knew the most about the state. It was interesting to see which pages knew what because we’re from all different parts of North Carolina.”
Unlike some internships or shadow opportunities, the house pages are paid a stipend of $150 for the week that they serve, as a reimbursement for their expenses. Pages may opt to receive recognition for 30 hours of community service in lieu of the stipend.
Now finished with her week in the state capital, Henderson is even more certain of her decision to pursue a career in the political realm.
“I think my interest in politics has increased now, because I know more about it, and I know how impacting these issues can be,” she said. “I’d recommend the program for any student who is thinking about going into politics — you really get an insight as to what it takes.”
For those interested in learning more about the North Carolina House Page Program, visit www.ncga.state.nc.us/house/pages/home.html.