Avery Beard might have a tough time adjusting to her senior year at Wylie after the experience she had this spring.
Avery served as a Congressional Page in Washington D.C., working long days on the Senate floor, running errands for our nation’s lawmakers and touring the nation’s capitol.
“It was really crazy,” she said. ““It was a really great learning experience.”
Avery, who is on the debate team at Wylie, has always been interested in politics. When her mom told her about the Congressional Page Program, she decided to apply to be sponsored by Texas Senator John Cornyn, who is Majority Whip. Only 30 high school juniors are chosen for the program nationwide, and only one from Texas.
“I ended up getting it, which was incredible,” she said
Avery spent the spring semester living in a dorm near the Capitol. She and the other pages went to school for two or three hours each morning (starting at 6:15 a.m.) and then worked all day at the Capitol, running errands for the senators.
“We worked in shifts on the Senate floor,” she said. “Every time there was a vote, we had to run around the Capitol getting it to the media and clerks and people that needed it.”
She said the pages were basically getting water for Senators and doing the mundane jobs, but they were doing them at the Capitol.
“We were doing it for some of the most important people in the country,” she said. “It was really, really exciting.”
She said they would spend an hour on the floor and an hour doing homework and then repeat.
She said one of the highlights was being at the Capitol when Donald Trump was beginning his presidency.
“We were at the Capital at a really crazy time for the government,” she said. “We had the longest continuous session since the 50s. We worked an 18-hour shift one time.”
She said it was also very interesting to see how government works.
“It was incredible getting to see these really important people going to work,” she said. “You really got to see all the work that gets done. We got to see who much time they spend to hammer out legislation.”
She said the legislators also are very close, regardless of party affiliation.
“We are at a pretty divisive time for the government,” she said. “But you got to see how they agree on a lot more than they disagree.”
Another part of the experience that she loved was spending time with the other pages, who were all from other states.
I had five roommates,” she said. “They were from all over. That was one of my favorite parts of the experience was getting to know people from other places. You get really close to the people on your shift. We were really incredibly close.”
They also got to explore the city together, and they got to get private tours of some of the governments historic places, seeing things that the general public doesn’t get to see.
“Our school took us on a lot of incredible field trips,” she said. “There’s just so much going on in DC all the time. I found coffee shops I like. It’s really neat being part of the city instead of being a tourist the entire time.”
Avery was not allowed to have her cell phone for the entire semester, which might have been a deal breaker for some teens.
“They took it away,” she said. “I had a laptop. I had to call my parents on a landline. I got a lot more done. I was a lot more productive.”
At the end of the experience, Avery was one of two pages chosen to give a speech at the graduation ceremony. The entire experience has confirmed her desire to write political speeches as a career. Avery still doesn’t know where she wants to go to college, but she hopes to one day wind up back in Washington, D.C., writing speeches.
She said her experience as a page was very valuable.
“It was a lot of work,” she said. “But I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It really prepared me for college and taught me time management. It was so incredible.”