Six high school seniors were recently selected to serve as student pages for the 2019 Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis, including Madison Oswald of Bel Air High School; Kristina Holsapple and Chelsea Raff of Edgewood High School’s International Baccalaureate Program; Evan Nesbitt of Havre de Grace High School; and Garrett Frankis and Matthew Smidt of The John Carroll School.
Pages were hand-selected following a grueling application process that included a written test and an extensive oral interview before a 12-person committee, consisting of peers and educators from around the county, who tested the applicants on their knowledge of politics and other various topics. Based on a published rubric, the five highest scorers have the honor of being a page in Annapolis; the sixth highest score on the rubric is the alternate who will replace anyone who cannot serve due to illness.
“As a political science teacher, I am passionate about the Student Page Program,” said Michael Brogley, coordinator of the Student Page Program in Harford County and C. Milton Wright High School social studies teacher. “I urge you to live in the moment during this experience, to really take it all in.”
A Student Page Breakfast was held Dec. 5 at C. Milton Wright High School, and the newly-named pages spent the morning getting to know each other and the elected officials they will assist during the session. They were afforded the opportunity to ask questions and exchange contact information. The pages’ parents, as well as school and elected officials, were invited to the breakfast, hosted by C. Milton Wright’s Family and Consumer Science Program.
Keynote speaker Patrick Whitehurst, former Student Page Program coordinator for Harford County Public Schools, shared his insight about the experience with the pages: “Pages have shared with me that this experience was a highlight of their senior year, and one during which they made lifelong friends,” said Whitehurst. “Year after year, Harford County has sent outstanding representatives to Annapolis. You are among the best and brightest, and I credit you for taking your interest in government and applying it to an opportunity that gives you behind-the-scenes access. This experience will flame your passion for service.”
Several elected officials attended the breakfast event, including Senator Linda Norman and Delegates Andrew Cassilly, Susan McComas, Teresa Reilly and Kathy Szeliga. They welcomed each of the pages to visit them in their offices in Annapolis to talk with them.
Board of Education of Harford County President Joseph Voskuhl and Superintendent of Schools Sean Bulson brought greetings from the school system. Voskuhl said the pages should be congratulated for the effort they put in, noting that few students get this opportunity, and it will be one they won’t forget.
Madison Oswald, 17, is a member of the Mock Trial, Speech and Debate, and Step teams, and is active in Bobcats Against Addiction. In addition, she serves as an intern in the Harford County Office of the Public Defender and volunteers for Rage Against Addiction and the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy. Oswald has applied to Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and New York University. She plans to double major in political science and international politics, with aspirations to attend Harvard Law for her graduate studies. Her career goals include beginning as a lawyer before working up to U.S. Senate where she will focus on National Drug Reformation Policies.
Kristina Holsapple, 17, is a member of the Edgewood High School Student Government Association (past president), the Harford County Regional Association of Student Councils (past president) and the Maryland Association of Student Councils. In addition, she is the varsity field hockey team captain, president of the National Honor Society, president of Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society), treasurer of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica and member of Rho Kappa (Social Studies Society). Holsapple is also the lighting manager for the Edgewood High School Drama Department. She has 200+ service hours with Harford County Public Libraries, volunteers for the Joppatowne Christian Church Homeless Shelter, is a to-be published Planetary Science Institute journalist and a part-time math tutor. Holsapple hopes to attend Washington and Lee University to study psychology, English and Japanese.
Chelsea Raff, 17, is a member of the Edgewood High School Student Government Association, Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society), Tri-M Music Honor Society and the Orchestra. She serves as president of the Societe Honoraire de Francais, president of Rho Kappa (Social Studies Honor Society) and treasurer of the National Honor Society. In addition, she serves as stage crew/pit orchestra for her school’s theatre program. Raff is a peer minister at St. Margaret’s Catholic Church, a Girl Scout in Troop 3855, and was a paid intern at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground. She hopes to attend The College of William and Mary and double major in English and political science.
Evan Nesbitt, 17, is a member of his school’s Speech and Debate and Mock Trial teams and the drama program. He hopes to attend either Frostburg State University or McDaniel College and plans to become an educator after college.
Garrett Frankis, 18, is a member of the Student Government, Mock Trial and the Varsity Golf Team. He served as an intern in Congressman Andy Harris’ Bel Air District Office. In addition, Frankis serves in his school’s Patriot Hospitality Group and works for his family’s business, Humagalas. He plans to attend one of the major Washington, D.C.-area schools post high school.
Matthew Smidt, 18, is a member of the Student Government Association, the National Honor Society, the National Spanish Honor Society, the Mock Trial Team and the FCA Leadership Team. In addition, he is a member of the 1st Team All-County Volleyball, the men’s lacrosse team and captain of the volleyball team. Smidt works at Ladew Gardens, coaches lacrosse for the Bel Air Recreation Council and is a math tutor. He plans to study finance in college.
The pages will serve in the 2019 legislative session that will begin in early January and continue through April. They will spend two, non-consecutive weeks with host families in Annapolis while serving in either the House of Delegates or the Maryland Senate. The pages are paid a stipend to cover their living expenses.
The statewide Student Page Program in Annapolis has been ongoing for more than 40 years. Every high school in the county is urged to participate in the program, and each school has an equal chance of having its candidate(s) score in the top five to become a page in Annapolis.