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Lansdowne High senior experiences politics in Annapolis

Few Maryland teens get to meet and talk with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in person, and even fewer chat with him about college applications while he gets his coffee.

John Ebot, an 18-year-old senior at Lansdowne High School, is one of those few.

Ebot recently completed the second of his two weeks of service in Annapolis during this year's 433rd Session of the General Assembly participating in the Maryland General Assembly's Legislative Page Program.

He said he still remembers when he and a few of the 104 other students in the program bumped into Lt. Gov. Brown in the Starbucks in the Maryland Inn in Annapolis one day during his first week of page duty Jan. 14-18.

Two months later, it remains one of his favorite experiences so far.

"All of us were scared to go up to him until ... we realized it was him," said Ebot, a Lansdowne resident.

"And he was so cool about it. We thought he was going to be like 'OK. Bye.' but he actually talked to us," he said.

"He just talked to us about what colleges we want to go to and how we liked it (the page program) so far," Ebot said.

The page program, which started in 1970 after a successful trial run at the 1969 constitutional convention, gives Maryland high school seniors an opportunity to experience government at the state level.

Students are assigned to either the House of Delegates or to the Senate, and spend two non-consecutive weeks working and living in Annapolis.

According to page coordinator Jane Hudiburg, Baltimore City and each of the 23 counties in Maryland is allotted a certain number of the available positions, and each jurisdiction has a different application process.

Ebot was chosen as one of Baltimore County's 14 allotted pages after getting recommendations from both a friend who had participated in the program and his government teacher to apply.

He was excited to return for his second week in hopes of seeing some more controversial issues hit the floor.

"I think gun control is going to be on the ballot Thursday," Ebot said March 12.

"Gun control is definitely the most interesting (issue)," he said. "It's kind of an interesting bill that people don't vote in party lines."

According to Hudiburg, the pages have the opportunity to visit and sit in on committee hearings and delegation meetings after the general session, which are typically a bit more exciting for the students.

"They all have access to the hearing schedule, so they just pick which ones are most interesting to them," Hudiburg said.

"Or sometimes their delegates from their districts will say, 'Come to my hearing, it's going to be interesting,'" she said.

Throughout both his weeks of service, Ebot talked with Del. James Malone, District 12A that includes Lansdowne, who serves as the vice chairman of the Environmental Matters Committee and the chairman of the Motor Vehicles and Transportation Subcommittee.

Ebot, who said he wants to study environmental engineering at University of Maryland-Baltimore County, after he graduates in May, said he was happy he got to work with his local delegate while also pursuing his personal interests.

"I actually want to be an environmental engineer," Ebot said. "It's weird how everything worked out."

He said he was glad he was placed in the House and not the Senate.

"It's very exciting here," Ebot said. "Different characters come together."

Ebot said he enjoyed experiencing politics first hand and learning about the history of Annapolis.

"It's amazing," Ebot said of Maryland's capital, which was founded in 1649 on the bank of the Severn River.

"So many historic things around this place, like I didn't know that this was the Capitol for a short period of time," he said, referring to the city's status a temporary capital of the United States 1783-1784.

Losing two weeks of school while working in Annapolis was a small price to pay, he said.

"It's awesome," Ebot said. "Probably coming back I'll have a lot of work to catch up on, but I think it's worth it."

"It's an amazing experience," he said.

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