Three County Pages To Serve 1991 General Assembly

High Schoolers In Search Of A Civics Lesson And Some First-hand Experience

January 09, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

Andrea Stowe of Sykesville wants to be a social studies teacher.

Shreya Shah of Finksburg wants to see first hand how a part of the U.S. government manages to run so smoothly.

And Gerrit Hockstra of Westminster wants to be Speaker of the House next spring at the YMCA's Youth and Government mock legislative session.

Those interests motivated the three high school seniors, all 17, to earn coveted slots as pages representing Carroll County in the 1991 Maryland General Assembly session.

The three were chosen by a countywide committee from 1,500 eligible Carroll County high school students. Selection was based on grades, a student essay and three recommendations.

Each student will spend two weeks in Annapolis, one week in each half of the session. The students stay with a host family during their two weeks and are paid $35 a day to cover their expenses, including room and board.

"If anything, you end up in the red," noted Gerrit, the son of Thomas and Tijuana Hockstra. "If you go down there, you go mainly for the experience, not for the pay."

But it is for the experience that the students want to go to Annapolis.

Gerrit, who has been involved in the YMCA Y & G program for four years, hopes some first-hand experience with the state's real Speaker of the House will help him with the mock legislature elections.

"I was lucky I get to go to the House where I wanted to be (as a page)," the Westminster High student said. "I want to run for speaker and by doing this and talking to the real speaker, I figured I could get experience for the Youth and Government legislature."

He also likes the House "because more views are represented because there are more people," he said.

Gerrit will spend the fourth and 11th weeks of the General Assembly session in Annapolis, when he should be able to see different kinds of action.

"A lot of the first half of the session is spent in committee hammering out bills," he explained. "Inthe last half, they're on the floor, debating and then voting on bills."

Despite his interest in the legislature, Gerrit has no real desire to be a politician, unless he developed a strong opinion on an issue and none of the candidates in the election agreed with him.

"I'd run if I thought I could win or my views could get someone I liked elected," he said.

Gerrit plans to attend the Virginia State Institute of Technology next fall as a civil engineer major. At WHS, heis a member of the National Honor Society, a runner for the cross-country and track teams, and homeroom representative for his class.

Last month, Gerrit also participated in a mock United Nations programin Hershey, Pa., where he was ambassador to Namibia, the newly formed country from in southwest Africa.

Shreya, also a senior at WHS,was surprised when she was chosen for the page program. Although she was born here, her parents, Gopal and Suvarna Shah, came to the United States from India about 20 years ago, and she is aware of differences in the two governments.

"The American government just runs overall more smoothly," she said. "In India, they have riots and disruptions."

During her two weeks in Annapolis, Feb. 11 to 15 and March 25 to 29, she hopes to see "how they do things and how laws are passed."

While she had considered a career in law, Shreya said she changed her mind because there are so many lawyers in the country. Instead, she has decided to study computer science or computer engineering at Loyola College of Baltimore next year.

Also a National Honor Society member, she is a member of the Math Club, secretary of the Spanish Club, and a writing assistant. Next semester, she'll be an Outdoor School counselor.

For Andrea, a student at Liberty High and the daughter of Jerry and Constance Stowe, the opportunity to experiencea subject she hopes one day to teach was too good to pass up.

"I really wasn't interested in politics," she admitted. "But it will be a nice first-hand experience, a good way to meet people and to become involved."

She will spend weeks five and 11 of the General Assembly session in Annapolis, learning how the legislature works and becoming familiar with the city.

"It should be an overall interesting experience," Andrea said. "I should get a lot out of it."

The senior is concentrating on her grades this year in preparation for college at either Towson or Frostburg State universities next year. She is a member of WHS' Students Against Drunk Driving group.

The students who go to the General Assembly session maintain the legislators' Bill Books, run errands, distribute literature and provide general assistance to the senators and delegates.

This is the 22nd year of the program, designed to interest youth in state government, particularly the proceedings of the Maryland legislature.

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