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Local middle school students served as pages

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

Whitney Lehrer, Daria Chryssochoos, Ricky Mauriello, and Molly Herring got an up-close look at what happens on the floor of the State Senate during the last day of the Georgia General Assembly.

The students, all seventh-graders at the Union Grove Middle School, were pages in the State Senate, on April 29, for Sen. Gail Buckner (D-Jonesboro) at the close of the 2010 legislative session.

"At the end, they all ripped up all their papers, and they threw them in the air. I thought that was really cool," said Lehrer, 12. "I thought it was neat how the senators can come and go as they please, and don't have to sit through the whole thing."

Buckner's pages learned that they had to do a lot walking, transporting resolutions from their local senator to some of the other state senators, for their signatures.

The experience reinforced the need to pay strict attention to the task at hand, said Lehrer.

"I learned that you have to listen really closely, and follow along on resolutions, to be able to ask questions," she added.

Buckner said the opportunity to work with the students was an enjoyable experience. "They were fun ... They were bubbly, lots of energy," said Buckner, but the senator noted that often,

the pages were required to sit outside the senate chambers until called in for a specific task.

"One thing that they learned is that, for a page, there is a lot of down time," Buckner added. "They have to wait their turn until they are called in. It's sort of like the Army, it's hurry up, and wait."

The activity level on the senate floor was busier than usual the last day, said Herring, 13.

"It was a great experience. I got to see bills passed, and people writing bills. That was nifty to see." She said she also learned that, when bills pass in the senate, they must then go to the House of Representatives.

"It was really cool ... every experience, every day, would probably be very interesting, but we got beyond sine die, which was really cool," said Chryssochoos. "It was interesting, the way everything was last-minute, and rushing."

Chryssochoos said another highlight for her was meeting Gov. Sonny Perdue, and having her photo taken with him, as well as collecting signatures from most of the senators.

"My favorite part was at the end, where we got posters, and we got to go around to each senator and get them to sign our poster," said Mauriello, 13. "I ended up getting each senator's signature -- even Sonny Perdue's."

He said he had never met a senator up-close before the last day of the legislature. "I thought it was cool how they voted, how voting took place, and how they argued over different things," Mauriello said.