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On her way to witness history

Kathryn Murchison ’25 prepares for six month senate page program
Leaving+home+behind.+Kathryn+Murchison+%E2%80%9925+packs+for+a+six+month+journey+to+the+nation%E2%80%99s+capital.+She+will+be+a+senate+page+for+U.S.+Senator+Susan+Collins.+%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s+my+political+passion+that+drives+me+toward+this+opportunity.+I%E2%80%99m+nervous%2C+but+excited%2C%E2%80%9D+Murchison+said.%0A
Kathryn Murchison
Leaving home behind. Kathryn Murchison ’25 packs for a six month journey to the nation’s capital. She will be a senate page for U.S. Senator Susan Collins. “It’s my political passion that drives me toward this opportunity. I’m nervous, but excited,” Murchison said.

On January 26, junior Kathryn Murchison will walk out the doors of PIHS and into the heart of where history is written – the United States Senate. From January until June, Kathryn will eat, sleep and breathe life as a U.S. Senate page for Senator Susan Collins. While we wander these halls for the next six months, Kathryn will be living a real world work experience long before any senior even has the chance to graduate.

Every semester, U.S. senators from across the country choose 15 young women and 15 young men to be senate pages for a six-month term of service. The selected students live in the heart of Washington D.C. and enter the world of government and policy.

Kathryn will live in a dorm. She will attend school from 6 am to 9 am each day. She will have educational field trips with her fellow pages. But her entire existence will be rooted in one purpose: Kathryn will be a page for Aroostook County native, Senator Collins.

When the Senate opens at 10 am, the pages will have prepared the chamber before sessions start. They will distribute hard copies of documents to offices and serve as their senator’s aide.

She will have the opportunity to literally be a witness to history.”

— U.S. Senator Susan Collins

A VIEW LIKE NO OTHER

Most students participate in the page program in order to witness the government in action. “There’s what you learn at school about politics, then what you see on TV on ads and news,” Murchison said. This is where most students get their government knowledge from. “But being in Washington D.C. is definitely going to be a lot different experiencing it firsthand.” In a phone interview with Senator Collins, she emphasized this real world interaction with politics. “Kathryn will literally have a front row seat and ability to hear discussions among members of the Senate and listen to debates,” Senator Collins said.

NOT A NORMAL TEENAGE LIFE

Kathryn will be subject to much more extreme security than a normal high school day entails. She will be cut off from social media, with limited communication time each day. This is a little nerve wracking for her. “Not being able to see what’s going on in Presque Isle and not having my personal phone, not being able to get updates from friends and family will be the hardest part,” Murchison said. 

The trade off is that this serves as an opportunity for students to pursue a path that can lead them in serving our nation as a politician. “As someone who wants to go into political science, it will be a really good experience, and I will get a feel for what I’ll be doing in that field,” Murchison said.

WHAT ABOUT GRADUATION CREDITS?

Kathryn will attend the schooling that is provided for students in the page program during her time away, but there are some repercussions when she comes back. Because Kathryn will spend most of her day in the Senate, she won’t have time for elective classes besides the four core classes: math, science, English and history. The Guidance department has been working with Kathryn to make sure this experience works with her path to graduation. “When she returns, she’ll be able to finish up the classes she needs to graduate,” guidance counselor Lori Smith said. 

Kathryn understands that her approach to graduation credits will be outside the norm, but will be worth it.  “I’ll be getting a new experience every day in the Senate, where in school I only get my same classes everyday,” Murchison said.

THE PAGE PROGRAM MATTERS

Aroostook County is a small place with strong roots in family and community. Social Studies Department chair, Zack Powers, advised Kathryn on entering the program and reassured her of the value of her small town roots. “Having someone like Kathryn from Aroostook County, going in with that perspective, gives validity and urgency to the voice of Aroostook County as a whole, which is always positive for the region,” Mr. Powers said. 

Senator Collins also sees the value of her County beginnings. “Growing up in Aroostook County gave me a strong sense of the importance of community,” Senator Collins said. “That was something that I feel very fortunate to help shape me and my approach to government.”

Senator Collins stressed that having youth involved in our government is more important than ever. “We need to recapture a sense of community in this country, and the realization that someone who disagrees with you is not your mortal enemy,” she said. “That’s what is lacking in our country right now, and I’m counting on the next generation to help bring us together and solve that problem.” 

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    Danielle A StanleyFeb 2, 2024 at 10:51 am

    What a great opportunity for Kathryn Murchison. If this program continues vigorously in every state, I’ll have increasing optimism for the future of the country. It is a huge task requiring years of new interns, dedicated to the improvement of their country, to clean out the “swamp” that is presently Washington, D.C.
    I am encouraged also by the idea, currently gaining some traction, of moving government agencies to locations in various states, eg. OUTSIDE of
    Washington, D.C.

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