Page from Suffolk ‘keeps moving’
Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2010
RICHMOND – When his alarm clock sounds, Fletcher Stephens dons a blue blazer, gray slacks and name tag before heading to the Capitol to start his workday. Unlike most of his co-workers, however, Fletcher is not even old enough to drive.
Fletcher, 14, is a Senate page for the 2010 session of the General Assembly. A ninth-grader at King’s Fork High School in Suffolk, he is spending the entire legislative session — January to March — living in Richmond and assisting senators and other officials at the Capitol.
It’s a big honor: For each session, the Senate selects only 11 pages – one from each of the state’s congressional districts.
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“It is a 9-to-5 job,” Fletcher said. “In the morning, we find out what our jobs are for the day, and we take messages and do whatever needs doing that certain day.”
His duties include running errands for senators and for the Senate clerk’s office, collecting copies of legislation and assisting in committee meetings.
Fletcher’s father, Robert Stephens, said the page program is a perfect fit for his son’s maturity level and background in community service.
“He has been around politics for most of his life and last year logged over 200 hours of community service,” Stephens said. “I have raised him to be a contributor, so whatever he takes in, he gets to give back.”
At home, Fletcher serves as the vice chair of the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council.
The youth council “is like a smaller version of the Suffolk City Council, so I thought the page program would be a good opportunity for me,” Fletcher said. “Politics has always been part of my dad’s life and my life.”
Fletcher says he has enjoyed his time in Richmond, especially the chance to learn the city’s history.
“When we are not in study hall or at work, we normally just go out to dinner … catch up on our schoolwork as much as possible, and we go on field trips,” Fletcher said. “There is a lot that I would never have gotten to see if I wasn’t a page.”
According to Bladen Clarke Finch, the civics coordinator for the Senate of Virginia, Fletcher has a strong work ethic and sets an example for his peers.
“He works very well with the other pages and with the staff members of the Senate,” Finch said. “He is resourceful and a good person to have on staff. He is truly a leader.”
Fletcher said he enjoys most of his jobs in the Senate, especially working on the Senate floor. But he said it can be frustrating sometimes when things move slowly.
“There are some jobs where you are always doing something. But there are other jobs where you are sitting and waiting to be told what to do. We like to keep moving,” Fletcher said.
“But being a page is probably the best thing that has happened to me – ever.”