Many high school students spend their summers working part-time or simply taking a leisurely break from the books. For 17-year-old Thomas Rupp, of Sabina, Ohio, this year’s summer vacation had to wait until after he answered a call to duty from Washington. In May, I nominated Rupp and he was selected by the Congressional Leadership to serve as a Page in the U.S. House of Representatives during the month of July.
A Congressional Page is a high school age student who is hired to work in support of the U.S. House of Representatives and serves the House itself rather than any one Member of Congress. The Congressional Page Program affords high school students the unique opportunity to experience the inner workings of Capitol Hill in a way that only a full-time staffer or Member of Congress would. They work in the U.S. Capitol building and have access to much of the Capitol complex.
The young men and women who serve as Congressional Pages represent a cross-section of America, and play an important role in helping the U.S. House of Representatives operate. The Congressional Page Program dates back to 1827 when three “Pages” and eight “messengers” were employed in the U.S. Capitol. Over the years, the number of Pages has increased along with the size of Congress and its workload. Today, there are 72 House Pages, with 48 serving in support of the Majority party and 24 for the Minority party.
For Thomas Rupp, a junior at East Clinton High School in Sabina, the journey to work in the Halls of Congress began with his submission of an application form to my office followed by several writing projects. “I wrote essays and prayed about it,” Rupp observed. Once his paperwork was received, his application was then forwarded to House Republican Leader John Boehner for final approval.
Rupp came prepared for his one month summer job in Congress. He ranks first in his class of 107 students and is the incoming student council president. His schedule as a Page included a mixture of early morning classes at the Summer Page Academy, located in the Library of Congress, followed by House support duties in the Capitol. During the evening, he joined his fellow Pages from around the country in the House Page Residence Hall on Capitol Hill.
The workday for a Page begins at 9 a.m. and extends to at least 5 p.m., or until the House adjourns for the day. Typically, Pages spend their time delivering legislative correspondence to and from Congressional offices. But they are also frequently seen on the House Floor collecting copies of speeches of Members of Congress and assisting in the House Member cloakrooms, located just off the Floor. Pages also help with the flying of U.S. flags over the Capitol and their delivery to Congressional offices.
Rupp, who is considering pursuing a college degree in business, credited his service as a Congressional Page with opening his eyes to the fact that the House of Representatives is run by “normal everyday people” who care about their country.
Rupp was an exemplary Congressional Page and I was proud to nominate him. His service will be an experience he will keep with him for a lifetime.