Poole gets #8216;Potomac Fever#039; serving as Page
Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 10, 2007
Football games, pep rallies, school plays - typical parts of most high school students' lives.
Meeting people like British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U2 lead singer Bono, not so typical.
Evie Poole of Greenville can claim such heady experiences after spending the first half of her school year in Washington, D.C.
The Fort Dale Academy junior served as a Senate page for Jeff Sessions from early September 2006 to late January 2007. She was one of only 30 students chosen from across the nation to work for the U.S. Senate.
A unique education
And it IS work.
“Even though I was appointed by Senator Jeff Sessions, I worked for all the Republican senators for those five months. We usually put in 12-plus hour days,” Poole said.
After all, the page's high school education continues even as they put in the hours serving the government.
“On a typical day, I woke up around 4:45 in the morning (at the pages' dormitory) and got ready for school and work. We always wore our page uniforms - navy slacks, Oxford cloth button-down shirts, blazers and nametags,” Poole explained.
“We had breakfast in the basement of the dorm, then had to report to school by 6:15 a.m. Our classes were also in the dorm basement.”
A typical school day, she said, was from 6:15 a.m. to no later than 9:45 a.m.
“However, school could and often would be shorter because pages had to report to the Senate an hour before it came to order.”
Those, classes were not “Mickey Mouse” endeavors, either, Poole stresses.
“I took four classes, Pre-Calculus, U.S. History, British Literature and Chemistry, and completed an average of four hours of homework daily.
I was up against other pages who attended elite private schools and boarding schools and were used to that kind of work. It took some adjustment.”
Following a busy morning of classes, the pages still had a long day ahead of them. The students would walk a couple of blocks to the Hart Building (Senate offices) and from there, catch the subway to the Capitol.
Once at the Capitol, Poole would report to the Republican Party cloakroom.
“I would get the cloakroom staffers whatever they needed for the day - coffee, papers, bills, documents. Then I would help set up the Senate Chamber floor by getting all the senators' desks ready for the day -getting them podiums, water, calendars of business and documents,” Poole said.
Once the Senate comes into session, “the pages take turns working out on the floor of the Senate Chamber or sitting in the back hallway doing all the homework assigned.
The pages also rotated between early and late shifts daily. Those on the early shift left at 6 p.m. Those on the late shift stayed until the Senate adjourned, “which means you could leave anywhere from 6:15 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day.”
Poole found life as a page both exhilarating and exhausting.
“I loved getting to meet so many interesting people. Getting to see all the senators, of course, from some most people has never heard of, to the ones you see on the news almost every day, like Obama, Clinton, Kerry and McCain.”
The FDA student also got to see prominent government figures like President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
“Of course, meeting Blair and Bono were pretty exciting, too,” Poole said with a smile.
Work and play
On the flip side, juggling the “massive” amounts of homework and working at the same time proved very demanding for the teen.
“We were writing papers, essays, doing 50 math problems, a two-chapter history test to prepare for and a chemistry lab - all in one night. It was hard to get used to that kind of work load,” she admitted.
There was dorm life to adjust to as well.
“Dormitory life was veryŠinteresting. I was in the room with five other girls, so you can imagine - lots of drama, very little privacy,” Poole laughed.
Rules and regulations were “very strict” at the pages' dorm, which was formerly used as a morgue (“kind of creepy”).
“I feel dormitory life in college will be different, at least I hope so,” she added.
But there were also new-founded freedoms to be discovered during Poole's time in D.C.
“I really enjoyed big city life. D.C. is such a fun city! And I got to explore the entire Capitol Complex without anyone ever stopping to question who I was or what I was doing. Everyone knew who the pages were, since those uniforms of ours stuck out like sore thumbs.
Yes, the Capitol was really cool,” Poole said.
There were also field trips beyond the city for the pages.
“Some weekends, the pages had mandatory trips to places like Baltimore to visit the museums and the aquarium, Hershey, Penn., the Army-Navy football game and Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg,” Poole explained.
“But we also had weekends off where a bunch of us would take the metro, get off at a random spot and see where we'd end up. Other times, we would go to Georgetown, shop, eat and see a movie. We'd go to museums, attend basketball games, visit monuments - actually, just thinking about it makes me want to go back,” the teen enthuses.
Poole's positive page experience has left her wanting more.
“I can definitely see myself going back up to D.C. I hope to intern after my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Guess I have what they call ‘Potomac Fever.' I just can't get enough of the city and working in the center of world politics and being around such incredible personalities,” she said.
Would she recommend serving as a Senate page to other teens?
“I definitely would recommend this opportunity to high school juniors, if you are up for the challenge. It is demanding, and it requires you to make major sacrifices,” Poole stressed.
“I had to miss the first half of my junior year. I missed things like football games, homecoming and playing the lead in FDA's production of ‘South Pacific.' I left friendly, small town Greenville to go to the city with the biggest crime rate in the nation.”
The sacrifices were worth it, however.
“I thought about what a big deal it is be one of just 30 students chosen for this, and how good it would look on my resume. And it turned out to be such a life-changing experience for me,” Poole said.
“I now have friends from all over the United States. I've had personal experiences and interaction with most of the people running for the presidency. I was able to attend the State of the Union Address and the change of the majority parties. I have a real appreciation for the working of our government.”