Six high school seniors were recently selected to serve as student pages for the 2013 Maryland General Assembly, including Emma Zyriek of C. Milton Wright High School, Alexander McArtor of Fallston High School, Emily Clarke and Bryan Doherty of The John Carroll School, Andrew Becker of North Harford High School and Marc Szczepaniak of Patterson Mill High School.
Pages were hand-selected following an arduous application process that included a written test and an extensive oral interview before a 12-person committee, consisting of students and educators from around the county, who tested the applicants on their knowledge of politics and other various topics.
A Student Page Breakfast was held December 6, 2012, at Aberdeen High School, and the newly-elected pages spent the morning getting to know each other and the elected officials they will assist during the session. They were afforded the opportunity to ask questions as well.
Mr. D. J. Sigworth, deputy regional field director for President Obama’s re-election campaign in central Ohio, a student page himself in 2009, took a moment to share his insight about the experience of serving as a page. As the keynote speaker, Mr. Sigworth reminded the pages of the responsibility that comes with this honor and encouraged them to take advantage of every opportunity to be involved during their time in Annapolis and to find out what motivated and inspired the legislators to enter politics, to find out what others’ passions are.
Delegate Richard Impallaria, chair of the Harford Delegation, also addressed the group, which consisted of the pages and their parents, as well as school and elected officials. He welcomed those in attendance and encouraged the pages, “Your time in Annapolis will be very exciting. You will meet people from all over the state and make fantastic friends. Stop by our offices and see each of us.”
In addition to Del. Impallaria, other elected officials in attendance were Delegates Kathy Szeliga, Wayne Norman and Susan McComas. Senators Barry Glassman and J. B. Jennings were also on-hand.
J. Patrick Whitehurst, coordinator of the student page program in Harford County and Fallston High government teacher, spoke, detailing the competitive selection process pages endured. In addition, Superintendent of Schools Robert M. Tomback, Ph.D., and Board of Education of Harford County member Robert Frisch brought greetings.
“You have an extraordinary opportunity to see in practice how our government really works,” said Dr. Tomback. “You will be on the floor, working behind the scenes, experiencing things several layers beneath what the average public sees.”
“It is truly an honor to be selected as a Page, and you have something to offer – your desire to serve the public,” said Mr. Frisch. “If this experience does not lead you to a political career, it will at least lead you to a career of public service.”
Ms. Emma Zyriek, 17, is youth awareness co-chair at Maryland Youth Advisory Council; head organizer of C. Milton Wright High’s first annual Bullying Awareness Day; and CEO and founder of Real Girls Initiative, a non-profit organization that strives to change the perception of females in the media; and she is involved in her school’s Student Government Association, Mock Trial and other various political/social activism campaigns. Ms. Zyriek is undecided about her college plans; however, her first choice is Furman University.
Mr. Alex McArtor, 17, is the vice president of his school’s Student Government Association, student leader at Way of Life Community Church and captain of the Academic Team. He is also involved in the Youth and Government Program and Boy Scouts of America. Mr. McArtor plans to attend Harford Community College for two years and then transfer to University of Maryland, College Park.
Ms. Emily Clarke, 17, is involved in her school’s newspaper, the literary art magazine, the track team, Looney’s lacrosse, the Student Affairs Council, Spirit Club, National Honor Society, National French Honor Society and Quill and Scroll. In addition to her academic, extracurricular and sports commitments, she works as a barista at Coffee Coffee. Ms. Clarke plans to attend Clemson University or College of Charleston in the fall.
Mr. Bryan Doherty, 17, is the secretary/treasurer of his school’s Student Government Association and is the founder of the Sailing Club. Mr. Doherty is also a member of the National Honor Society, Student Journalism Club, the lacrosse team and Boy Scout Troop 355. Mr. Doherty has applied to Princeton University, George Washington University, Washington and Lee University and University of Richmond.
Mr. Andrew Becker, 17, is class president and a member of the Speech and Debate Team and Mock Trial. He plans to attend University of Virginia in the fall.
Mr. Marc Szczepaniak, 17, is the editor of Patterson Press, secretary of the Harford County Young Democrats and a member of the Speech and Debate Team. In the fall, he hopes to attend University of Maryland, College Park or George Washington University.
The pages will serve in the 2013 legislative session that begins in January and continues 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. They will perform various tasks such as filing, running errands and sitting in on meetings and hearings. Although they will be absent from school for a total of two weeks, pages are still expected to make-up any work they miss while attending the session.