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Students surprised at atmosphere in Annapolis

April 29, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The business of the Maryland General Assembly is more than just speeches, stress and suits, three Washington County students discovered recently when they served as pages in Annapolis.

"I liked it. It wasn't what I expected. It was surprising, but not a bad kind of surprising," said Jordan Appel, who compared the environment at the State House to a "classroom full of kids."

Appel, a Hancock Middle/Senior High School senior, was among a group of Washington County youths who had the opportunity to work as pages for two one-week stints.

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Teachers recommended students to be pages, and they were chosen based on applications and essays titled "Why I Want to Be a Student Page."

"I used to be interested in politics when I was younger and thought going there would be a really good experience as a career option," said Kristina Powell, a Boonsboro High School senior.

Williamsport High School senior Matthew Smith said he is interested in politics because the field offers the opportunity to do good in the community and represents a "step up from just voting."

Smith and Powell both said they were surprised by the atmosphere in Annapolis. Smith, 18, served in the State House in January and March, while Powell, 17, was a Senate page from Feb. 7 to 11 and from March 28 to April 1.

"I guess they procrastinate a lot more than I thought. Most of the action is on the last day," Smith said.

Smith, who works on the Hagerstown Suns grounds crew, said he is considering majoring in political science or golf course management at the University of Maryland.

Appel, who takes classes at Hagerstown Community College, said her schedule allowed her to spend just one week as a page, but she still experienced some personal thrills.

"It was exciting because the governor was giving a speech, and he wanted a glass of water, and I had to run out and get him a glass of water," Appel, 18, said.

Appel, who has served as student council president, is considering majoring in psychology at Hood College in Frederick, Md., or Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md. She said she might pursue a career in law.

Powell said her duties as page included "little tasks here and there," such as getting copies and passing notes to senators.

"Being a page was a really good experience. I'm just not sure I'd like to pursue being a senator. I might want to branch into another field," said Powell, who is interested in pursuing a career in accounting.

Powell and Smith stayed in the homes of private residents while they were in Annapolis. Appel stayed at a hotel managed by a friend of her family, she said.

"It was like living at home," Powell said, "except with another person."

Powell said she enjoyed touring the United States Naval Academy and watching an installment of "Legislative Follies," a Saturday Night Live-type show that featured skits by the lawmakers.

"They made fun of the president of the Senate, they made fun of the governor ... It was really funny," Powell said.

Powell said being a page exposed her to a unique side of the personalities in state government.

"It gave me more of a realization they are down to earth, more like us, nothing to be scared of," Powell said.

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