If nothing else, Julia Phillips is about to give her friends a reason to watch C-SPAN2.
They might have to wait hours, but if they’re patient — and can see past political hot air — they may catch the Anthony Wayne High School junior on the floor of the U.S. Senate this spring working as a Senate page. A politics buff at 17, she’ll be passing correspondence between senators and preparing the Senate Chamber while legislators debate the issues of the day.
She’ll likely be on hand for high-stakes deliberations about fiscal policy, gun control, and Cabinet confirmations.
“I’m excited about being on the inside,” she said.
Young Phillips will spend the spring session in Washington working as a page from Jan. 28 until June 7. Only 30 high school juniors are chosen to work as pages for the spring session. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) was among those whose turn it was to sponsor one.
A spokesman for Senator Brown’s office said young Phillips was selected because of “her remarkable academic performance, her strong character, her ability to overcome adversity in athletics, and her passion for public service.”
It won’t be a vacation from the school grind: pages take classes from 6:15 a.m. until about 9:45 a.m., then head to the Senate. During marathon sessions she may work well into the night, though thankfully homework deadlines get delayed after long days.
Not that a full schedule will be anything new for her.
Young Phillips says she never goes straight home after school. She’s either playing tennis, practicing with Anthony Wayne’s crew team, or out on the ice with the Anthony Wayne boys’ hockey team, a challenge she overcame.
The most annoying part of playing hockey with boys: their apologies for checking her.
“I don’t feel they should say, ‘Sorry,’ ” she said.
She doesn’t let athletics get in the way of academics. She takes plenty of advanced courses and sports a 4.3 GPA, normally good enough to put someone at the top of a class.
However, young Phillips says last time she checked, she was ranked 33rd among her classmates.
Though her home in Waterville is a long way away from Washington, mother Carolyn McVicker isn’t worried about her daughter spending months away in a big city. The page program is rather strict with curfews, and the teen will be busy working. Ms. McVicker also has a brother who lives in the city, adding another layer of comfort.
Plus, she knows what her daughter is getting into. Working as a Congressional page is becoming a family tradition.
Ms. McVicker did a stint as a page for the U.S. House of Representatives when she was in high school, which may have planted the seed in her daughter’s head.
But then, young Phillips has always been interested in politics. She remembers walking around her neighborhood with big sister Alyson, telling residents, “If you don’t know who you’re voting for, vote for Al Gore.”
Neighbors thought mom put them up to it, but it was their own doing.
Ms. McVicker said her daughter has always been rather independent. Young Phillips pushes herself in school, makes sure she gets her homework done without prodding, and applied for the page program on her own, though Mom helped proofread her essay.
Young Phillips’ selection to the program was a piece of welcome news after a couple of hard months.
In October, a dryer caught fire and burned down their house. Ms. McVicker carried their dog to safety and alerted neighbors. Nearly all their possessions were destroyed.
They spent weeks in a friend’s basement, and they just recently moved into a new home.
While admittedly opinionated and says she leans Democratic, young Phillips says she’s not a partisan and listens to both sides of an issue.
She says she hopes spending time in the Senate seeing the inner workings of government will help her make up her mind a little more about what she believes politically.
For now, she’s planning to memorize all the senators’ names and faces and learn the rules of being a page.
What’s the biggest bummer of the page program? It’s a toss up, young Phillips said, between the prohibition against cell phones and the page’s outfit, a pantsuit with a blazer.
“It’s pretty stiff,” she said.
That’ll probably help her fit right in on Capitol Hill.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6086.