Windsor student a head page

Published 9:03 pm Monday, February 1, 2016

Luke Denoncourt of Windsor, a  head page during this year’s General Assembly session, is introduced on the first day of the session in January. (Submitted Photo)

Luke Denoncourt of Windsor, a head page during this year’s General Assembly session, is introduced on the first day of the session in January. (Submitted Photo)

By Stephen Cowles

Special to the News-Herald

Luke Denoncourt can attest that inspiration can come from the unlikeliest places and things.

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For reasons he still can’t explain, the sight of a lighted blue button inspired the Windsor High School student to become a page for the House of Delegates in the Virginia General Assembly last year. This year, he’s leading a group of the student errand-runners.

During a tour with fellow Boy Scouts of the Capitol in Richmond a few years ago, the guide showed a series of buttons, including the one for pages. Suddenly interested, Denoncourt asked about it.

“I was at the age limit and decided I would apply,” said Denoncourt, 16. “To apply I had to write an essay, fill out a bunch of forms, list my extracurricular activities and get a letter of recommendation from my delegate, Rick Morris (R-64). I interviewed with him a couple of times and did volunteer work.”

The latter included helping him to host events, such as passing out literature ad setting up and breaking down for meetings.

There are 41 pages separated into two teams, 19 of whom are under Denencourt’s direction this year. Some work in the General Assembly building where the delegates and senators have their offices and the others in the Chamber during the session.

“Last year as a page, we switched jobs every eight days. In the General Assembly building, I worked in the IT department. There, I was cutting videos for some delegates who would request videos. I would format and send them,” he added. “I really enjoy being in Chamber. Again, we rotate jobs, sometimes in the galleries letting people in, directing them to the galleries, getting delegates’ orders.”

As the head page for his group, Denoncourt is responsible for organizing pages and assigning duties.

The work schedule for the pages is Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a mandatory study hall from 7 to 9 p.m. They leave after 2 p.m. on Fridays.

Schoolwork doesn’t stop just because of the pages’ work. But Denoncourt said he’s been able to balance the two.

“I have supportive teachers and a principal [Daniel Soderholm]. I’m very much on top of my school work,” he said. “Last year, my English teacher Miss [Dawn] Carroll, really helped me getting me in. This year, Mr. [Matthew] Burgess has been wonderful.”

An age restriction would prevent Denoncourt from returning as a head page in the Assembly next year, but he could go to the federal level as a Senate page in Washington, D.C. He’s debating what to do next year, because the Governor’s School for Science and Technology is also of interest.

His involvement in state government has him interested in politics, and it’s not been ruled out.

“I am considering it among multiple careers. I’ve always wanted to be in the Navy. I love sailing,” he said. “There’s also astrobiology; that might be a field I’d wish to pursue.”

Denoncourt considers this opportunity to serve as a page “a marvelous experience.”

He is the son of Jim and Elizabeth Denoncourt. He has a twin brother James; Nathaniel, a year older; sister Cora, two years younger; and Ben, the baby brother.

“Of course we’re proud,” said his mother. “I know he can do anything. He’s an inspiration to me.”

She acknowledged being a bit surprised when her son said he wanted to serve again as a page, but only because of the challenge of keeping up with schoolwork.