Determined Sedro-Woolley teen serves as legislative page
The young men and women who come to Olympia from around the state to serve as legislative pages will tell you it is easy to rack up miles of walking during their week at the state Capitol as they’re delivering bills and documents across the campus to state legislators. Try doing it with injured ankles!
Last year, Devon Whitney, an 8th grade student at Cascade Middle School in Sedro-Woolley, suffered a severe injury to both of his ankles. He spent five months in a wheelchair, and then crutches.
Devon learned of the legislative page program from his history teacher, Mrs. Brooke Howell. He applied and began researching the pros and cons of hydroelectric power in anticipation of writing a bill for the program. Devon is thankful he was able to put down the crutches just before he received his acceptance letter into the page program. Any sooner, he says, and he would not have been able to participate.
The 14-year-old was sponsored by 39th District State Rep. John Koster.
“Like many young people who enter the page program, Devon came here with a keen interest in politics. What makes Devon’s story unique is that he came here in ankle braces, ready and eager to work and learn about the Legislature,” said Koster, R-Arlington.
“We learned late in the week while he was here and delivering messages at the Legislature that he was wearing the ankle braces the whole time. We discovered it when he talked with our intern,” added Koster. “He didn’t complain once, even when he climbed five stair flights to complete a single errand. He just had that level of determination.”
When asked about the challenges of keeping up in the page program while coping with his injury, Devon just smiled and explained he felt fine and used ice on his ankles to keep going.
While his bones continue to mend, he left an impression on the page program about mending relationships across the aisle.
“What’s the best part of the Washington State Legislature? Everyone works hard to get along. Even when people disagree, they treat each other well,” Devon noted.
Each year, students from around the state apply to participate in the legislative page program. Students spend a week attending page school, learning the inner workings of state government and assisting legislators on the House floor. Pages earn $35 per day while serving in the program.
To serve as a page for the House of Representatives, a student must have permission from a parent or guardian and school, be sponsored by a current member of the House of Representatives, and be at least 14 years of age and not have reached his or her 17th birthday.
The son of Michael and Cherie Geerdes of Sedro-Woolley, Devon is a fan of rodeo and wrestling.
“Devon is an inspiring young man, with an amazing attitude toward life and a readiness to work hard. He’s shown great determination in the face of some big challenges,” added Koster, “and I’m convinced he will be successful in whatever endeavors he chooses.”
For more information about the House page program, visit: http://www.leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/HousePageProgram.aspx.
###Washington State House Republican Communications