Madison Getty, a senior at Manchester Valley High School and… (Photo by Mali Krantz, Capital…)
Madison Getty is just like any other page in Annapolis. She makes coffee, delivers papers to be signed, runs errands for legislators and helps get things ready in the morning for members of Maryland's House of Delegates.
She does have one tiny advantage, however.
Her dad is state Sen. Joe Getty, who serves Carroll and Baltimore counties in the District 5, and so Madison knows her way around the State House buildings, from the tunnels up.
"It's been helpful that I've been here," Madison, 17, said. "I know how to get places."
Though her father is a member of the General Assembly, that didn't get Madison into the page program. She still had to apply and write an essay, like everyone else, before being selected to serve as one of 17 pages (11 in the House of Delegates, six in the Senate) from around Maryland.
"They went through the process without them knowing she was my daughter," Joe Getty said.
"When she was assigned to the House, she asked me if she should have it changed," he said. "I told her in the Senate she would be treated as my daughter by everybody. In the House, she wouldn't have me hanging around all the time and have a little more independence."
Started in 1970, the Maryland General Assembly page program is open to seniors in public or private schools. Each county has a page coordinator, appointed by the county school superintendent, who conducts the selection process.
Each morning during her initial week, which began Feb. 6, Madison met with other pages at 9 a.m. to help set up and organize the desks in the House chamber. She then attended the session in the morning, and afternoon hearings.
"It's not too crazy," said Madison, a senior at Manchester Valley High School. "The session hasn't gotten really long yet. Only an hour."
During the 90-day General Assembly session, pages serve two weeks. Her second week, which starts March 19, will be busier.
"They work one week early to become familiar with how things are and one week later on when everybody is very busy," Joe Getty said. "It is a great opportunity to be thrown in an environment with other high achieving students with similar interests."
Besides working in the morning, the pages usually enjoy both lunch and dinner together. Madison and a page from Wicomico County are rooming together at a local family's house.
"My favorite part is getting to know the other pages from all over the state of Maryland," Madison said. "We're with each other the majority of the time."
She realizes, however, that her second week will be full of challenges.
"I think it will be a little crazy with session coming to an end, and everyone wanting to pass bills," Madison said. "We'll be on our feet a lot."
Del. Nancy Stocksdale, who also represents Carroll County, said she had to remind Madison that her page experience isn't her first official duty on the House floor. When Madison was an infant, she was in the House for her father's swearing-in ceremony when Joe Getty was first elected to serve in the House of Delegates.
Stocksdale also noted that Madison's brother, Nathan, served as a page as well. She asked Madison if her brother gave her any advice, and he said to serve Nancy Stocksdale tea.
"She was just waiting for me on Monday and Tuesday to bring me a cup of tea, but we weren't in session long enough. Yesterday (Wednesday) I said, 'OK, Madison, today is the day.' "
"She is a beautiful young lady," Stocksdale said. "She is very sweet."
Sen. Allan Kittleman, District 9, is a proud supporter of the page program. He takes time to explain issues, answer questions and often, along with Getty, takes them out for lunch.
"It is a wonderful experience," Kittleman said. "Our government works pretty well. Hopefully, they leave with a better impression with legislature than when they came."
"They realize that elected officials are not stuffy people," he said. "They see the fact that Democrats and Republicans don't hate each other."
In addition to Getty, four other Carroll County students are serving as pages during the session — Cory Maks, of Westminster High School; Nathaniel May and Taylor Sprague, both of Liberty High, and Daniel Stonko, of Manchester Valley High.
Though she is applying to the Naval Academy, Madison's future plans are not set.
If it is not politics, Madison will always be grateful for the experience the page position gave her.
"It is a great opportunity to see how the government works and to be in the middle of things," she said. "It is fun being down here with my dad to see what he does."