Tomorrow Cal heads back to Richmond for what's called "reconvene," one day where the General Assembly votes on all of the Governor's vetoes. The Page Class of 2014 has been asked to come and work this one day and they're THRILLED. It's well past time for me to recount the story of their graduation day, so anticipation of this final day of service, I thought I'd share how it all ended for these guys.
When the Senate adjourns on the last day of the session, it does so sine die or "without day," which means that there is no set time and date for the body to reconvene. For us, Saturday, March 8 was all about Cal's graduation from the Senate Page Program, but it was also the last day of the General Assembly.
This meant that all the parents got to see a bit of the last session before the graduation ceremony.
For the pages, Saturday was a regular work morning, which meant that Cal went straight to the Lt. Governor's office after he checked in. Neel and I sneaked over to meet him there for a few minutes before heading to the Capitol and letting all of them get back to work.
We all watched a normal session until one of the senators (quite understandably) objected to the number of senators on a commission compared the number of delegates (more delegates than senators seems to be a no-go). After a quick conference at the desk (photo 1), the Senate stood "at ease" while more and more senators gathered to confer. When it became clear that this discussion would take awhile, the Senate stepped away from the calendar to give time for the graduation ceremony.
The pages filed in and lined the room. After that, the Senators introduced each page's parents, and family by family, the Lt. Governor welcomed each of us. Last was Mr. and Mrs. Snow, pictured at the end. They were the House Parents who looked after our kids during the week. The entire room gave them a well-deserved standing ovation.
After the introductions, The Pages' Resolution was read. Together with Mr. Finch, the pages drafted a lengthy resolution. It covered so many things from the session. It was funny and sweet by turn. They'd voted for one of the funnier senators to read it, he's a member of what's know as "The Raucous Caucus," and he gave it everything he had.
When it came time to vote, all the senators voted "NO." At each vote the Lt. Governor gives the senators time to "change their vote," and this time he spoke very slowly. You can see here that he's watching the screen to see all of the NO votes turn to YES.
Mrs. Scharr, the Clerk of the Senate then spoke. Things went from raucous to moving in that moment, and she presented a loving tribute to the kids and the program. The director of the program, Mr. Finch, is called the Court of Appeals and she's considered the Supreme Court (oddly, she's the court of second chances), and she noted that this class had the fewest trips to the Supreme Court of any that had gone before.
She also mentioned a news report that had aired locally and had cast the program in a negative light. The whole thing was a bit of a boondoggle, really. The reporter caused all sorts of trouble while he was researching the story and the final report focused on the cost to the taxpayer, calling the Pages, "lunch-getters and door-holders." Mrs. Scharr (and everyone really) took great umbrage at that.
But you know what? The people rose up. In the comments on the online version of the story, the reporter was skewered, with one commenter saying that as a business owner in VA, he's proud his taxes go to this program which creates future leaders for our Commonwealth. So ha!
After that, each of the kids were called up one by one to be handed their graduation certificates. When Cal came up for his, one of our local senators stage whispered, "Mr. President!" as a nod to Cal's time as president of the senate at the mock session the day before. Mrs. Scharr told each of the kids that there was a white envelope in their certificates, and they were not to open it until she said. Neel and I had been tipped off as to the contents, so we waited with much anticipation for this moment.
A $100 tip for each of the pages. That was fun.
At the very end of the festivities, Cal and another page from his old district, presented the LG with a check for $500 that the pages had raised for the children's hospital where the LG works. It was a really proud moment for everybody.
And then it was over. Jubilation mixed with tears, just an incredible sense of disbelief, I think. No one was ready for it to end. None of us. Mrs. Scharr had said to the kids right at the very end that they'd be coming back for reconvene, so that took some of the sting away. Cal has been counting down the days.