For Starkville Daily News
As the fall school term began, Starkville High School junior Ethan Cartwright felt a little strange about not attending with the rest of his classmates.
Cartwright wonât be sitting in a desk at SHS this semester. Instead, heâll be walking the halls of Congress, representing his school, city and state as a U.S. Senate page in Washington, D.C.
Selected by the office of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), the 16-year-old is among only 30 pages nationwide serving the Senate chamber from this September to February 2012.
âIâve had an interest in politics since the 4th or 5th grade, and as Iâve gotten older my curiosity has only increased,â said the son of John and Dixie Cartwright of Starkville. âThis is a great opportunity for me to witness the legislative process up closeâto see it through my own eyes.â
Each day, Cartwright will attend the U.S. Senate Page School before heading to the capitol where his duties on the floor will range from providing senators with important documents to delivering them a cup of coffee. Also, some days will be spent in Senate offices, assisting in any way possible. He will live in the schoolâs residence hall, just a few blocks from the capitol.
âIâm proud I was selected, but Iâm also very appreciative of the support Iâve gotten from my parents, teachers and friends,â he said, citing SHS social studies instructor Carolyn Goodman as someone who has been especially supportive.
âShe has always encouraged me to get involved and do things like this, and sheâs supported me through the entire process,â he explained.
Cartwright said he hopes the experience will help build his work ethic and sense of responsibility, while making him more appreciative of what the nationâs leaders do. He also said he may pursue a college degree in the political science field.
The program was first brought to Cartwrightâs attention about a year ago, and since that time he has worked to prepare the application packet, including a resume, formal essay and three letters of recommendation. He received notification in May on his selection out of more than 50 applicants to Cochranâs office.
At SHS, Cartwright has served as president of the Teenage Republicans and has been a member of the student government and debate team. For the past two years, he has participated in the Mississippi Model Security Council, a simulation of the United Nations Security Council and hosted by the MSU Political Science and Public Administration department.
When asked what he would miss most about being away from home for the next five months, Cartwright immediately replied, âMy cell phone,â explaining that pages arenât allowed to bring their favorite form of communication with them to Washington.