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 wonâ€™t be sitting in a desk at SHS this semester. Instead, heâ€™ll 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.
â€śIâ€™ve had an interest in politics since the 4th or 5th grade, and as Iâ€™ve gotten older my curiosity has only increased,â€ť said the son of John and Dixie Cartwright of Starkville. â€śThis is a great opportunity for me to witness the legislative process up closeâ€“to see it through my own eyes.â€ť
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 schoolâ€™s residence hall, just a few blocks from the capitol.
â€śIâ€™m proud I was selected, but Iâ€™m also very appreciative of the support Iâ€™ve gotten from my parents, teachers and friends,â€ť he said, citing SHS social studies instructor Carolyn Goodman as someone who has been especially supportive.
â€śShe has always encouraged me to get involved and do things like this, and sheâ€™s supported me through the entire process,â€ť 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 nationâ€™s leaders do. He also said he may pursue a college degree in the political science field.
The program was first brought to Cartwrightâ€™s 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 Cochranâ€™s 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, â€śMy cell phone,â€ť explaining that pages arenâ€™t allowed to bring their favorite form of communication with them to Washington.