Capitol Classroom

Teenage legislative pages report for duty.

If you go to the Capitol in the upcoming months, you may be surprised to see a gaggle of 13- and 14-year-olds in identical blue blazers running around Capitol Square. But they’re not playing hooky. These teens have come from across the state to work as House and Senate pages for the Virginia General Assembly, which convenes in January.

Unlike most state legislatures, the Old Dominion hosts its 34 Senate pages and 39 House pages for the duration of the eight-week session. Staying in a hotel four blocks from Capitol Square, these junior high students walk to and from work every day where they do everything from delivering mail to answering telephones to speaking with touring school groups. They even receive stipends to go along with their uniforms. “My favorite job was working on the Senate floor … witnessing everything,” says Leath Ratliff, a 9th grader from Abingdon who worked as a Senate page in a previous General Assembly session.

But it’s not all about the glamour of hanging around with pols and pundits. These kids start each day around 8 a.m. and don’t finish until 10:30 p.m. after mandatory study hall. Chaperones supervise the pages after hours—not that these kids need to be reminded to brush their teeth.

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