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Green jackets: Essays from Vermont's legislative pages

Golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse on a cloudy day.
Angela Evancie
VPR file
The Vermont Statehouse.

Every legislative session, eighth graders from around Vermont apply to be legislative pages. Those who are selected head to the Vermont Statehouse for a few weeks of service while the legislature is in session.

Wearing green jackets, the pages quietly watch the proceedings of the House and Senate and deliver mail and messages — all while keeping up on homework from their schools. Last year, the page program was canceled because of COVID-19. And this year, some pages were only able to come for a shortened session.

Some of those pages have shared essays with VPR about what it’s like to serve under the golden dome.

Abe Dunne
“My favorite part of the painting is the amazing attention to detail the artist included. You can clearly read the belts and plates of all of the soldiers and clearly see all of the expressions on their faces. The most amazing detail, though, is that 21 of the faces seen in the painting are the faces of actual people who were at the battle! The artist went around and found veterans from the battle, drew their faces and put them in the painting.”

Abe Dunne is an eighth grader from Hartland. Full transcript

Amelia Farley
“To hear the legislators discuss bills and work toward compromise with each other reminds us that problems are solved by working together. As we deliver messages and mail to our legislators, we are constantly bringing them new information and perspectives. Their ability to process so many different paths is critical for the success of Vermont. So even when they don’t agree, they are all trying to do the best for our state.”

Amelia Farley is an eighth grader at Mater Christi School. Full transcript

Sadie Farris
“A special tradition was begun in the golden dome over 100 years ago by some representatives, senators and Statehouse employees — but mostly pages. They went up into the dome and wrote their names.”

Sadie Farris is in eighth grade, and lives in Grand Isle. Full transcript

Grady Hagenbuch
"Who knew sorting mail was going to be the most helpful way to learn my job? As a legislative page during COVID, it has been interesting and difficult to be a page. But nothing has been more challenging than finding the right legislator, since it's my job to run notes between legislators. It would be really embarrassing to give the wrong note to the wrong person."

Grady Hagenbuch is an eighth grader at Crossett Brook Middle School. Full transcript

Jacob Law
“For 14 years after Vermont became a state, there was no set capital. Until 1805, the legislature traveled around the state and performed its duties in several cities, including Rutland, Burlington, and Westminister. The General Assembly even met across the Connecticut River in present-day New Hampshire before Montpelier became the capital.”

Jacob Law is an eighth grader in Essex Junction. Full transcript

Cecilia Marino
“The generations before us have walked in the same halls of this Statehouse — all with goals, hopes and dreams of their own. This opportunity has not only given me a connection to the past, but also a view of a future I can help it become. Change is always really something that’s possible, yet not always something that we want to instigate on our own. This page program has given me the opportunity to share this thought of change with others.”

Cecilia Marino is an eighth grader in Williston. Full transcript

Madelyn Morris
“My favorite part of the program is being in the House of Representatives. The ornate room is glorious. My favorite aspects of the room are the beautiful, intricately built ceiling and the portrait of none other than the first U.S. president: George Washington.”

Madelyn Morris is an eighth grader at Williston Central School. Full transcript

Anya Muller
“As a page, I have many responsibilities, one of which is delivering messages to various representatives and senators all around the Statehouse. When I receive a message and it needs to be delivered, I feel a wave of excitement and nervousness wash over me. I am excited because I feel like I'm on a mission to do my job as a page.”

Anya Muller is in eighth grade, and lives in Jericho. Full transcript

Maya Piluski
“For the first time in Vermont’s history, the lieutenant governor, speaker of the house and president pro tem positions are all held by women. Vermont’s State house has become an embodiment of unprecedented feminine power, so why do its halls still seem to reflect a white patriarchal government? Of the 93 public portraits, only five are of women, and all of them are white.”

Maya Piluski is an eighth grader in Westminster. Full transcript

Grace Warrington
“The coat of arms can be found in the center of the State flag. Just above the coat of arms is the crest, which in this case is a depiction of a stag’s head. The stag is supposed to face left. According to the State curator, there was a law mandating this that was passed after the Civil War. The crest is shown most prominently in the state flag and on it is a depiction of a tree, a cow, a few sheaves of grain, and the mountains.”

Grace Warrington is an eighth grader in Shelburne. Full transcript

Jeremiah Watson
“I have learned that the representatives are your friends. You can get along with almost every representative or senator if you choose to. I learned that respect will get you almost everything you need, and that respect plays a big role in our society.”

Jeremiah Watson is in eighth grade and lives in East Haven. Full transcript

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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