Seniors get up close look at state government and politics

Seniors get up close look at state government and politics

Three Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students are preparing for what they refer to as “an opportunity of a lifetime.” Seniors Jonathon Moss, Kyle Smith and Ella Videgla will join other Maryland high school students in 2018 as Legislative Pages. Student pages work with the General Assembly for two weeks during the legislative session. Kennedy Harris, a North Point High School senior, was chosen as the student alternate.

The selection process is competitive. Interested students must submit an essay detailing why they think they are good candidates for the program. Students apply because they are interested in pursuing a career in politics and public service, while others explore the opportunity to learn more about how the state legislature operates.

Pages are assigned to work with either the Maryland Senate or House of Delegates in Annapolis and receive a well-known component of the program: a navy blue blazer that identifies them as a student page. Duties range from delivering messages to staff, distributing materials and assisting visitors, to working with staff committees and other legislative offices.

Moss is part of the CCPS student liaison committee and a senior at St. Charles High School. As a student liaison, Moss works with other student leaders and represents the interests of students at St. Charles. His dream job is becoming the U.S. Surgeon General. Moss thinks the student page experience will help him better understand how Maryland politics function, and help him with his future career aspirations.

“I really enjoy learning about political science. I hope to walk away from this experience with networking connections and an understanding about how politics work in Maryland; how and why certain laws are passed, and why others are not,” Moss said.

The St. Charles senior is on track to graduate within the top 10 percent of his class and is currently taking a schedule of three Advanced Placement (AP) classes. He aspires to major in Biology with a minor in neuroscience at UCLA, and plans to join the Navy after he finishes college. Moss said he likes to help people and wants to open his own medical practice. “I would really like to be in the political arena, but I plan on opening a practice that specializes in neurology, cardiology and pediatrics,” Moss added.

Smith is a senior at North Point and the 2017-18 Student Member to the Maryland State Board of Education. His passion for public service is well known in the Charles County community, and at the state level. He hopes that in serving as a legislative page, he will learn more about local and state issues. “I am hoping to learn more about the legislative process, especially how committees operate and how laws are passed. I think people forget opportunities to explore issues at the state level,” Smith said.

Smith is an engineering student at North Point and recently earned a 5.0 grade-point average on his first quarter report card. He is ranked among the top 10 students in the Class of 2018 and is taking seven AP classes this year. Smith is researching both Princeton and Cornell universities and plans to major in public policy. “In 15 to 20 years, I would love to be in elected office. Definitely in some type of government role. I love to give back to the community and feel a legislative or judicial role will help me with that,” Smith added.

Videgla also is an outstanding student and is dually enrolled at Thomas Stone High School and the College of Southern Maryland. She learned about the legislative page program from her AP U.S. History teacher and thought the experience would help her learn more about government. “I can’t wait to meet new people and learn how the General Assembly functions,” she said.

Videgla was born in West Africa and moved to the U.S. with her mother when she was a child. Her father still lives in Benin and Videgla travels there most summers. During her summer breaks in West Africa, Videgla has volunteered at orphanages and interned at the American Embassy. She also interned with LINK Missions in Niger and said she enjoys working with the public and youth.

“I want to study public health and work in the community. When I interned at the American Embassy in Benin, I worked in the library with English language learners. It was exciting to interact with people who are learning your language,” she said. Videgla also said she feels fortunate to have an opportunity to learn about politics, because there are no programs or experiences for youth in West Africa in which students can learn about the government. Her plans after graduation include working for the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization.

Harris will serve as Charles County’s alternate and also travels to the legislative session with her peers. She is considering a political science major in college and plans to attend law school. She said this experience will help her to decide whether or not she wants to pursue a political science route. “Ideally I would like to become a lawyer, or a state prosecutor. I think this experience will help me know for sure whether or not I want to add politics into my career,” Harris said.

Each year, about 105 student pages and more than 30 alternates are chose to represent their schools and county in the program.   

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event. 

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