the senate will come to order {life}

  the senate pages await their turn on the floor

the senate pages await their turn on the floor

  last-minute advice from senator donald mceachin

last-minute advice from senator donald mceachin

From the beginning of Cal's program we were told that the Pages would be participating in a Mock Session sometime near graduation. That it could occur at any time and that we might get only 24 hours notice before it took place. We were told that graduation could come on March 7 or March 8 and we might only get 24 hours notice before it took place. Stress! I worried about my class and Neel worried about all manner of meetings and deadlines. But good news! Mock Session scheduled for Friday afternoon. Graduation on Saturday morning.

The pages spent the good last half of the session preparing for the Mock Session. In it, pages act as senators and other agents of the Senate and the senators act as pages. Cal ran for and was elected Lt. Governor. His friend Erin was elected Clerk of the Senate. Other pages ran to chair committees, and in the committees they sponsored and wrote bills. Voted on them, passed them out of committee and prepared to bring them to the Senate floor. In the last week, Erin met with the Clerk and Cal met with the LG, and they both practiced as often as they could (instead of, ahem, study hall). They wanted to do well, and they wanted to do better than the House Pages.

The regular sessions are streamed online each day, and if Neel and I were at our desks when they were on, we'd watch. It was great fun to catch a glimpse of Cal, and fascinating to watch our Commonwealth's legislative process. Being familiar with what went on on the floor made it all the more fun to see the pages take the senator's seats.

Cal popped in to see us in the gallery for a minute. "I'm not at all nervous," he told us. And after that he was all business.

  lt. governor northam helps cal get on his microphone before they go over papers at the LG's desk

lt. governor northam helps cal get on his microphone before they go over papers at the LG's desk

When Cal writes his post, he'll give you all the details of his day-to-day job, but one thing he did each day was manage those green papers for the LG. During the Mock Session, the LG returned the favor.

  some last-minute discussion with the program director (Mr. Finch) and fellow page Erin (she's the Clerk during the Mock Session).

some last-minute discussion with the program director (Mr. Finch) and fellow page Erin (she's the Clerk during the Mock Session).

mock_session-4.jpg
  gaveling in the session

gaveling in the session

Right at 4PM, with three sharp raps, Cal gaveled in the session. In what's archaically known as "The Morning Hour," the Senate welcomes visitors at the start of the session. After thanking the "minister" (Mr. Finch) for his invocation, one page introduced the parents in the gallery. After the introduction, Cal, who would stand for the whole of the session, asked the parents to stand and then he thanked them for coming that day and for all their support over the nine weeks.

I'm not gonna lie. He was so eloquent that I got a little weepy. As we all sat down, I heard a mom behind me whisper, "He's awesome!"

Yes.

  in this photo, Cal's roommate (near-center bottom right) stands to defend his bill.

in this photo, Cal's roommate (near-center bottom right) stands to defend his bill.

You know what? They all were. The clerk would call out the name of the bill and a page would press a light asking for the right to speak. Cal, as LG, would call on the page, and that person would then describe their bill, advocating for its passage. The bills were wide ranging. One argued for a ban on Uranium mining near natural bodies of water. One argued that boys be able to tie their neck ties with an unorthodox knot. Other pages would ask to question the page who was sponsoring the bill and back and forth they'd go. It mimicked a real session quite impressively.

In the meantime, the senators, along with the LG, are acting as pages. They're sharing space on the page bench and running errands. One page asked a senator to get signatures of all the pages on the floor, and when the senator returned with the signatures, he said, "Oh, you can throw that away now." Pages had senators pass Cal notes of encouragement, and about 3/4 of the way through the session, they started having the senators bring them snacks.

  the lg brings cal a dr. pepper | last photo: the lg shakes hands with cal after the session

the lg brings cal a dr. pepper | last photo: the lg shakes hands with cal after the session

It was at this moment that we saw the Lt. Governor approach the dais with a Dr. Pepper in hand. As he went to set it down on the desk, Cal made the universal gesture of pouring a drink into a glass. Tossing his hands into the air, the LG heads back down the dais in search of a cup. He returned and poured Cal's drink for him. Cal tipped him $1. He later tipped other senators each a quarter "For being here today."

  cal and mrs. schaar, the clerk of the senate | cal and the lg on the dais after the session

cal and mrs. schaar, the clerk of the senate | cal and the lg on the dais after the session

At the end of the session, one of the pages rose to request a memorial resolution. He told a sweet story and shouted out to his Nana, up in the gallery before getting choked up at the very end. And as soon as he was done, Cal asked, "Shall the memorial resolution be agreed to in the usual manner?" All the pages rose, and after a moment, Cal struck his gavel, signaling that the resolution was agreed to. A page asked if that completed the calendar, and once everything was done for the day, Cal struck the gavel one last time as they adjourned in honor of the 2014 Messenger Page Class. It was 5PM on the dot.

I think Cal might have been proudest of that part. Finishing on time. I was proudest of all of it. Proud of all those kids. How could we not be? If our future is in their hands, I think we're gonna be okay.