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I think that the high school page program
is probably the most important thing that happens here in the
House Representatives in terms of educational
opportunities Steve Alger was the educational program coordinator for the
High School Page Program for more than 7 sessions
beginning in the early 2000's. He drew on his former teaching experience to help
and engage pages. (Singing)
Alger guided hundreds of participants through hands on state
government activities including
meeting with legislative leaders, debating in mock
committees and helping members in the House Chamber.
So being back here in the House Chamber, does it bring back a lot of memories
of your time
with the high school page program? It brings back so many fond memories
unbelievable, I have so many stories I could tell.
Some of Alger's former pages have gone on to attend
national conventions to choose the President of the United States
and his past page, Joe Schomacker
became a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
It's amazing to me %uh number of high school
pages that we've had over the years who have
state actively engaged in various
capacities here here at the capitol some have gone on
come back and been professional pages this I call them
these our kids that have graduated from college, they've gotten jobs, you know,
working as me administrators you know they're all over the capitol, they've
worked for the executive branch, worked for the legislative branch.
For all of the participants that Alger had the opportunity to mentor,
those that came before and after his time as a program coordinator
and the pages that are yet to come, they all owe a debt of gratitude to the
trailblazers of the Minnesota House High School Page Program.
Without their effort, the program may have never have become the institution
it is today. In this guide to the Minnesota House
High School Page Program, we go back in time to see how the page program came
into existence and who the major players were that got it off the ground.
The year is 1975. The Vietnam War
comes to an end, Bill Gates and Paul Allen
create the company Microsoft and the Minnesota House
High School Page Program begins its impressive
run. At the time, former US representative Martin Sabo
was the speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
As the speaker, he steered the page program from concept to reality.
Part of our obligation, we thought was also also to have outreach.
We always tried to do as much things as we could to spur education about the
legislature in state government that we could.
Sabo aspire to do things differently
than how the US Congress ran its page program.
There they had a high school page program where all the pages were high school
and they had a separate school for you know, an elaborate program. We decided that that
would not work for us.
Sabo instead wanted there to be two-page programs at the Minnesota House of
a page program for older professional pages
and a page program for high school students.
We thought it made lots of sense. I think it was Dave Kientiz
who work for us at that time in the sergeant's office
came up with the idea and the head sergeant was former schoolteacher
Harlan christianson whou was also excited about it.
Sabo says the purpose of the high school page program
was to serve as an educational outreach tool
to give students the opportunity to see how things worked
on the House floor and do some good work on the floor
that made a difference. Sabo appointed
M.J. Hedstrom who was second assistant sergeant-at-arms
at the time the program began to help carry out his vision.
He wanted them to have the opportunity to serve as
pages for the house but most particularly
he wanted them to get a broad exposure to
particularly the legislature but state government broadly as well
and he hoped that through that
they would become involved
when they were adults in the political process
and in active citizenship. Working on something from the ground up,
the 24-year-old Hedstrom had a lot riding on her shoulders.
But the environment the page program began in,
may have been a blessing in disguise. Interestingly,
there was a huge turnover in the legislature
in that first year of the page program so,
uh very large number of house members were as new
the high school pages with and the program.
So, many of them you know that was the norm
for starting their legislative careers.
Everybody I thought was very supportive.
The page program schedule was different than it is now.
Odd number years when we had long sessions, we would bring kids in
for two weeks, one week earlier in the session
where we have lots to do, lots of education. traditional things.
I would meet with all the kids that period of time
and then bring them back one week later in the session
it was all work, working on the house floor and in other places
and then we would have the even-numbered year, when we had a
shorter session, they'd be back for one week. Today, the page program is just a week long,
yet the program's formula remains relatively unchanged.
It still tries to attract regionally diverse students and features hands-on
legislative activities. The program remains
under the guidance of the sergeant-at-arms office and they're still professional
and high school pages. The page program continues to be well regarded
due to its access to the legislature and educational value.
Steve Alger says word of mouth has also help to spread
a positive image. I think one of the things happens is that once the kids
here, then they go back and they talk to
other kids. They're are best ambassadors.
The program's positive impact on Minnesota students
is worth considering especially if you are a high school junior
or know a high school junior who would benefit from becoming a page.
I hope that people in the future
who see this as parents or see this as students will
take advantage of the opportunity and just
dive in and try. I think, it's a wonderful introduction to the legislature
and a view that almost nobody else will have a chance to have.
The Minnesota House High School Page Program wouldn't have been a success
without the educators, house members,
leadership, pages, and originial trailblazers
who made positive contributions. Sort of
a good feeling something we started that, you know,
thirty years ago so still exists
still found useful it was a good
idea then and still a good idea today. The program
has truly stood the test of time.
It survived history.