In January, four Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students will learn first-hand how bills and laws are passed by Maryland legislators. Seniors Jake Burgess, Jamarr Joshua Johnson, Kathleen Martinez and Natalie Yeager were recently chosen to represent CCPS in the 2020 Maryland Student Page Program.
The program is part of the annual legislative session that runs January through April. More than 100 high school students participate, each serving as a representative of their respective school district. Three representatives are picked with a fourth student selected as an alternate. This year, Burgess, Johnson and Martinez will serve as CCPS representatives and Yeager is the alternate.
The selection process is highly competitive. Students must complete an application and essay to detail their interest in the program. Applicants then go before a panel of judges for an interview to discuss their interest in learning about the government and public service.
Pages work for two nonconsecutive weeks in either the Maryland State Senate or House of Delegates in Annapolis. Page duties range from delivering messages, materials and helping visitors to working with staff committees and other legislative offices. Pages also receive a stipend to cover travel expenses. Most students who apply for the opportunity are interested in pursuing public service after high school.
Burgess is a senior at Maurice J. McDonough High School. He plans to major in business or economics and double major in political science. Burgess serves as the McDonough student liaison to the Board of Education and hopes to attend Yale University. Last year, Burgess visited the Maryland General Assembly on a student government field trip and said he knew then that he somehow wanted to become more involved. “I applied for this because I found it fascinating to see how government works,” he said.
Burgess is active in student government as the senior class vice president. He also serves as president of the National Honor Society and captain of the varsity soccer and tennis teams. Burgess is currently ranked number two in the McDonough Class of 2020 and enrolled in six Advanced Placement (AP) courses. When he graduates, Burgess will have completed 11 AP courses toward college credit. He hopes to land a job working in government or for a non-profit organization. “I want to do something in which I can use my skills to find a balance with my love for politics and community service,” Burgess said.
Johnson is a senior at North Point High School and is enrolled in the criminal justice program. He wants to study psychology after he graduates and attend law school. Johnson wants to be a criminal defense attorney and is a member of the mock trial team at North Point. He said through his mock trial experiences, he has learned how to interpret laws and hopes to learn how laws are made. “I applied for this program to learn about how laws are made. The focal point of mock trial is how to interpret and apply laws. This experience will show me how those laws are made and passed,” he said.
Johnson started his senior year with straight A’s during the first quarter. He is enrolled in six AP classes and is president of the Explorers Post criminal justice program. As an Explorer, Johnson and his peers learn about community service, help with the Teen Court program and provide education to children in the community. Explorers are required to complete at least 25 hours of community service per quarter. Johnson said activities range from working with the Arnold House and Children’s Aid Society to helping with the Toys for Tots program. “Last quarter, I averaged more than 60 hours. I really enjoy helping the community,” Johnson said. Additionally, Johnson interned over the summer with a local attorney and still assists as an intern when needed.
Martinez is a senior at Westlake High School. She is currently ranked among the top three seniors and plans to double major in computer science and political science. Her dream school is Georgetown University, but she has also applied to the University of Maryland. Martinez is spending her senior year enrolled in four AP classes, followed by three sessions of study hall. She uses study hall time to complete her homework and tutor others. Martinez heads the Westlake Key Club as president and loves to work in the community. “I enjoy helping others, teaching others and making an impact where I can,” Martinez said.
In addition to her school schedule, Martinez also works part time, is a thespian and vice president of the National Honor Society. She serves as a mentor to the Kiwanis Kids Club at William B. Wade Elementary School and helps to tutor the Wade chess club. Martinez said her main reason in applying for the Page Program because she wants to see first-hand how government works. “I want to know more about how things work … I want to be in the room where it happens and see where this opportunity takes me,” she said.
Yeager is a senior at North Point and Charles County’s alternate. She is enrolled in the engineering program and plans to pursue a career in which she can incorporate her love for politics with medicine. Yeager is also a member of the North Point mock trial team and loves to learn about laws. When she graduates, Yeager will have completed 12 AP courses toward college credit. She is a liaison to the Class of 2020 and is president of the Science National Honor Society.
Yeager hopes to attend a college that offers a global health program. She said she applied for the Page Program after learning about the opportunity from her mock trial peers. “I get to see first-hand how bills are created and passed. I want to be more informed as a Maryland resident and understand how state laws work,” Yeager said.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.