Six Harford County high school seniors have been selected to serve as student pages for the 2015 Maryland General Assembly session in Annapolis.
The new pages are Alex Poniatowski, of Edgewood High School; Grace Brett, of Bel Air High School; Tyler Ziegler, of North Harford High School; Justin Hawkins, of The John Carroll School; Ashley Harley, of Edgewood High School and Kevin Williams, of C. Milton Wright High School.
The pages were selected following an application process that included a written test and an oral interview before a 12-person committee, consisting of peers and educators from around the county.
The committee tested the applicants on their knowledge of politics and other topics. Based on a published rubric, the five highest scorers have the honor of being pages in Annapolis. The sixth highest score on the rubric is the alternate who will replace anyone who cannot serve because of illness.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime, behind-the-scenes experience for prospective future law, government and policy students to experience first-hand the inner machinations of state government and politics," said J. Patrick Whitehurst, coordinator of the student page program in Harford County and Fallston High School government teacher.
Alex Poniatowski is in the International Baccalaureate Program at Edgewood High School and is a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society and captain of the varsity soccer team. He volunteers at Luna House Animal Care and Education Center and for the Greater Excellence in Education Foundation. He hopes to major in computer science and cybersecurity at either the University of Maryland or Towson University.
Gracie Brett has been a member of the varsity golf, swimming and tennis teams and volunteers for the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. She has completed an internship as a political consulting trainee and has worked on election campaigns for the board of education, Congress, governor and the president. She plans to major in political science at either the University of Maryland, American University or George Washington University..
Tyler Ziegler is co-captain of both the speech and debate teams and is a member of the Academic Team. He is also active in his church's youth group. He plans to attend the University of Maryland in the fall.
Justin Hawkins is captain of the academic team and the tennis team. He is president and founder of the John Carroll Chess Club and is a member of the National Honor Society, the speech and debate team, the Student Government Association and the Quill and Scroll International High School Journalism Society. He also serves as the opinion editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com. He hopes to attend William and Mary, Wake Forest University or the University of Virginia.
Ashley Harley is active in her school's drama productions, the literary magazine, Destination Imagination, feminism club, academic team and Science Olympiad. She plans to attend either Stony Brook University or Duquesne University.
Kevin Williams is Senior Class Council president and a member of the National Honor Society, the Student Government Association, the cross country team, the baseball team and the academic team. He plans to attend Princeton in the fall.
The pages will serve in the 2015 legislative session that will begin in early January and continue through April. They will spend two, non-consecutive weeks with host families in Annapolis while serving in either the House of Delegates or the Maryland Senate. The pages are paid a stipend to cover their living expenses.
A student page breakfast was held Dec. 4 at Patterson Mill High School, where the newly-named pages spent the morning getting to know each other and the legislators from Harford County they will assist during the session.
The pages were afforded the opportunity to ask questions and exchange contact information, according to program sponsors. In addition to school and elected officials, the pages parents also were invited to the breakfast.
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The breakfast keynote speaker was Kate McComiskey, who was a 2006 student page from Fallston High School.
McComiskey took a moment to share her insight about the experience of serving as a page and offered her top five tips for the pages, ending by saying that all the people the pages will meet in Annapolis will be important to them.
"You each will go on to do great things," she said. "Take this time to make new, lifelong friends."
Del. Richard Impallaria, chair of the Harford House Delegation, also addressed the pages, assuring them, "If you have any questions or concerns, we are there for you. We are looking forward to working with each of you."
Joining Impallaria at the breakfast were Del. Glen Glass, Del. Susan McComas, Sen.-elect Wayne Norman and Del.-elect Mary Ann Lisanti.
Board of Education member Alysson Krchnavy and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Susan Brown brought greetings from the school system and commended the pages for having been selected for this opportunity.
The statewide Student Page In Annapolis Program has been ongoing for about 35 years. Every public and private high school in the county is urged to participate in the program, with each school having an equal chance for its candidate or candidates to score in the top five and be chosen.