Meet your Mississippi State Capitol Junior Pages

September 19, 2018

Rep. Deborah Butler Dixon and Page Antonio Lacey. Photo Courtesy Emily Roberts.

In Mississippi, a Junior Page represents:

Themselves! The Senator or House member who serves a page’s district is usually their sponsor for their week as a Capitol Page. That’s why (if you want to be one) it’s important to know who your lawmakers are.

Length of term: One week of legislative session in the Capitol. And you get paid!

Responsibilities: Pages are quick on their feet. You’re basically runners for your legislators. That could mean anything from coffee to copies of extremely important documents. Be prepared to be a big help… and to get in some cardio.

Perks: Swag. You get to go on field trips. Your representative takes you out to lunch or dinner, which, frankly, is the least they could do. You also get to see the two legislative Chambers in session, which is fun, because things can get feisty in there.

Real-world example of why you should care: At the very least, it looks awesome on your resume. More broadly, you get to learn how this whole state government thing works in Mississippi. You see the arguments, you run the paperwork, you learn how accessible lawmakers are. All of this is critical as you grow and get even more politically involved.

 

Former Head Page of the House of Representatives Justin Warfield talks to us about page responsibilities.

 

Justin Warfield. Photo Courtesy Warfield.

 

What do pages do?

 

Their main job consists of being a runner for not only their sponsor but also for the Capitol staff as well. It gets busy at session, so we need as many hands at a time.

 

The tasks are not generally hard. They mostly consist of running papers and taking stuff to the print shop. It can be as simple as getting someone a cup of coffee during 2-3 hours of session. I think it provides a great experience for kids because especially in a political setting you don’t often get that experience outside of school. Often they tend to ask questions about certain politics and about how things operate.

 

Save for educational questions, we generally do not talk about our specific political beliefs with pages, but we do talk to pages about how bills are passed, how things work. We take them on field trips to the museums and different places around downtown Jackson area.

 

How old do you have to be to be a page?

Pages are usually between 13 and 18. Sometimes we get college freshmen, or people younger than 13.

 

How do you become a junior page?

If you were in, for instance, Hinds County, you would look up who’s your representative. You would call his or her office. You would go up there and pick up the form. But that’s the general process. For the most part, people tend to get in.

 

What’s the benefit of being a junior page?

Just being honest, most children from ages 8 to 18 aren’t really focused on politics. Once you’re 18, that’s when you can vote. It does bring you more of an awareness of what’s going on around you. At that age, you’re starting to question how things can work. It’s really a different experience for kids. For a lot of people, it’s their first time being in the Capitol at all. Most importantly, it exposes them to a lot of different people’s views. They meet friends and make friends through school. It connects bridges; you never know who you might meet.

 

What is the impact of paging on young people?

They’re around the age where they’re about to make voting decisions, or they’re going to college, and going to the military. They have a voice and are able to or about to be able to vote and start their own lives. I think for them, being around the political atmosphere gives them an inside look.

Often what happens is you have kids arguing—in a good way. Let’s say we have 30 pages. We put them in groups—one who gets to sit in a chamber during session, and the other that’s outside of it. By that Wednesday, they debate each other over who gets to go in session. It piques their interest. I think more high school students should reach out.

 

Ours To Change Mississippi doesn’t endorse any candidate for office. We do feature a diverse section of elected officials in the pursuit of civic education and engagement. Read more about our values.

 

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