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Commentary: Senate page's experience reveals inner drive

Hot Ink Columnist Lillie Roney recalls her experience as an Oklahoma State Senate page.
BY LILLIE RONEY Edmond North High School Published: May 1, 2011

After participating in the Oklahoma Senate Page Program for four days, I have a new respect for politicians and people who enjoy exercise.

Having walked up and down, and up and down, and up and down countless flights of stairs, I was able to confirm my theory that working out just isn't for me.

The other 10 junior and senior pages and I arrived downtown at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel on a Sunday evening. After my parents and I got a briefing from our chaperon about what the week would entail — and constant reminders that my clothes must be conservative — I was able to go up to my room and meet the girl I would be living with for the next 96 hours of my life.

Luckily, Sarah and I got along great. She was the perfect roommate.

After my parents helped me get settled in, they wished me luck, knowing that I would not be able to use my phone that much.

There were only four rules that we absolutely had to follow.

1. Stay with the group.

2. Do not go in anyone else's room besides your own.

3. Keep your hands to yourself.

4. Be in your room by 10 p.m.

The pages were advised to be asleep by 10:30 p.m. so we could get eight hours of sleep to be well rested for the 12-hour workdays.

Of course, being the difficult girls we are, Sarah and I didn't go to sleep until after midnight each night. By the last day, there wasn't a word to describe how tired we were. We were past the point of exhaustion.

Each morning, the pages met for breakfast and headed for the state Capitol. Most days didn't go as planned, and we would leave the hotel at 7:45 a.m. — the time we were supposed to check in for work. We just couldn't get enough of the breakfast buffet.

Our day as Senate pages consisted mostly of running errands back and forth between senators, delivering committee packets and sitting in on committee meetings.

I had the opportunity to attend the General Government, Judiciary and Energy committees.

A majority of the time I just sat there, but occasionally I would refill the water pitchers. My favorite part of the day was when session began.

Each of the pages was assigned a specific spot and had to perform certain duties. A page could be assigned on the floor to attend to senators' needs, outside the chamber taking messages from lobbyists or simply staying in the Senate lobby running errands.

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