House page loves challenge of D.C.

December 15, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

CLEAR SPRING - Nicholas Hall spends his days answering phones and taking messages.

That might not sound like a very exciting job description, but Nicholas, 16, works in the members-only Republican cloak room in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

As a House page, Nicholas takes messages for about 200 Republican U.S. Representatives.

The Clear Spring teenager, son of Paul and Pamela Hall, is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

Nicholas applied to the page program because he loves politics and government and, "wanted to see everything being done at its source," he said.

Nicholas started his position in September and his term runs through January, although he might be asked to stay for an extra semester, he said.


"He came with a lot of enthusiasm and energy," Bartlett said.

The Congressman looks for teenagers who are "interested in the political process" and "unhappy with the status quo" to nominate for the page program, he said.

Every morning, Nicholas wakes up at 4:30 for breakfast with the other pages in time to start school at 6:30 a.m. School runs until 9 or 11:30 a.m., depending on the day. The House pages reside in a dormitory and attend school together in the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress.Then, he starts work in the cloak room just outside the House chamber. Most of the time, Nicholas leaves work before 5 p.m. Sometimes, he stays late until the House adjourns for the day.

The latest he has stayed at the Capitol is 1:30 a.m., Nicholas said.

Occasionally, Nicholas watches debate on the House floor while he delivers messages to representatives. C-SPAN airs in the cloak room so the pages can watch the proceedings while they work, Nicholas said.

Working with other pages has taught Nicholas to have an open mind when talking with people from around the country, he said. He was surprised by, "how controversial everything can be, even when you're talking with friends," he said.

Congress also has its moments of controversy.

"Just yesterday, they were discussing one (bill) that involved abortions and that became very heated," he said.

After work, Nicholas tackles his homework.

"I love the school here. It's really challenging," the Clear Spring High School junior said. "It's a lot of homework and a lot of reading and I love it."

Nicholas's classes include international relations, American literature, precalculus, physics and studies in leadership, he said.

Bartlett stressed that Nicholas is still in school.

"They're not losing a year, just having a different kind of year," he said.

Weekends are reserved for sleeping and exploring Washington, D.C., said Nicholas.

"I don't think I realized how much fun Washington can be, especially with a really good group of friends," he said.

He loves exploring Chinatown and is really interested in Asia, Nicholas said.

"I would like to go into the CIA," he said. "In the CIA, I would like to be stationed in China."

Returning to Clear Spring High School will be hard because he has a close group of friends in Washington now, Nicholas said.

According to Bartlett, if pages enjoy their time on the Hill, they usually have a bright political future.

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