AHS Freshman Learning Virginia Legislative Process Firsthand

AHS Freshman Learning Virginia Legislative Process Firsthand
Posted on 01/16/2024
Alleghany High School freshman Elijah Halterman (left) is serving as a Page in the Virginia House of Delegates during the 2024 General Assembly session. Halterman is working with Del. Terry Austin (right) and other lawmakers to experience Virginia’s legislative process firsthand. (Photo courtesy of Del. Terry Austin)

RICHMOND — An Alleghany High School student has been selected as a Virginia General Assembly House of Delegates Page. Ninth grader Elijah Halterman was chosen for the program and he is attending the General Assembly session in Richmond this winter.  

The page program provides students with a unique opportunity to learn about the Virginia legislature while continuing their course work. Halterman connected with local Del. Terry L. Austin of Botetourt County in preparation for his service. Austin’s district includes the Alleghany Highlands.

Pages do various work assignments during the General Assembly session, including delivering documents to officials, performing office errands, and completing other tasks. They also learn about the legislative process, which is important to Halterman who is considering a career in government.

“The opportunity to become a page is a difficult task, but it is a great learning opportunity and I hope more students in our community will take part in it,” Halterman said. 

Halterman is a member of the AHS Forensics Team where he competes in extemporaneous speaking on current events. Competition guidelines require participants to quickly write speeches about events of state, national, and international importance. He is also a participant in the Model General Assembly program.  In summer 2023, he attended the Appalachian Regional Commission Middle School Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Academy as  part of a small group of students from Virginia. He also enjoys playing video games and participating in church youth group activities.

“Elijah has proven himself skilled in the realm of public speaking. He is able to synthesize information and deliver concise speeches in his category of extemporaneous speaking which involves researching and delivering persuasive speeches on a variety of current events,” said Shane Clarke, an AHS history teacher who serves as forensics coach.

Halterman placed first in his category at a large regional forensics competition in November.

Halterman is presently expressing interests in a career in government and/or architecture and construction. In particular, he is intrigued by the work of city planners. His career interests have led him to enroll in technical drawing classes at Jackson River Technical Center. Technical drawing is part of an array of career and technical education courses offered by Alleghany Highlands Public Schools.  

The Page Program culminates with the pages conducting their own mock session, debating model policies from the floor of the chamber, and electing members of the group to serve in positions like Lieutenant Governor or Speaker of the House to oversee the process. The mock session is held in front of parents, delegates, and General Assembly staff members. 

The House page program has been a tradition since 1847. Thirty-two pages are appointed each year by the Speaker of the House from a pool of approximately 250 applicants. In addition, two head pages are assigned by the speaker. They are selected from the previous year’s page class. In the Senate, 26 pages are chosen by the Senate clerk to serve as pages. The Senate page tradition dates back to the 1850s. It usually attracts 150 to 200 applicants. 

Virginia is among more than 30 states that have page programs in at least one chamber, most of which are geared toward middle school or high school students. The Virginia Page Programs are  open to 13- and 14-year-olds.  More information is available at the Virginia Capitol Classroom website (Capitol Classroom: Main Page (virginiageneralassembly.gov)).

This year’s legislative session began on Jan. 10. It is scheduled to end in early March.

The Alleghany Highlands Public Schools Division is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington. The school division was created in July 2022 when Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools and Jackson River Technical Center merged. The school division serves approximately 2,700 students.

AHPS news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools and Instagram at ahpublicschools. Information can also be found at www.ahps.k12.va.us. 

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