Graves High Student Serves as US Senate Page
By Paul Schaumburg, Graves County Schools
MAYFIELD, KY - Graves County High School senior Lucas Campbell this past summer turned one opportunity into another. The 17-year-old is spending most of his last two years of high school at Middle College, a unique program through which some area high school students earn dual credit at West Kentucky Community and Technical College. That’s where he heard about the U.S. Senate Page Program, applied, was accepted, and spent four weeks this past summer working in Washington, D.C.
“A teacher at the Middle College mentioned that one of her students had served as a page and she suggested I apply,” he explained, noting that the application process was surprisingly simple and brief.
“Pages are paid $25,000 per year,” he continued. “We were paid at that salary pro-rated for the four weeks we were there. We lived in a dormitory and had $780 deducted from our check for rent in the Daniel Webster Residence Hall. The basement is where pages take classes during the school year.”
Mitch McConnell (R), the senior U.S. Senator from Kentucky and Senate Republican Leader, nominated Campbell as a Republican page.
Campbell found himself in the company of other high achievers from across the country. Some are looking toward political careers. In fact, most of the staff of the famed Senate Cloakroom started as pages and at least one Senator he met – Mike Lee (R-Utah) – also started there. Others just want a unique experience and a nice entry on their college resumes.
Campbell’s aunt works for the Pentagon and his uncle is a House of Representatives communications director-turned-lobbyist. They live in nearby Arlington, Va. Campbell had visited them before and did so again over the summer.
That background had caused him to toy with the idea of a political career; but after seeing the large amount of inaction that takes place in the Senate, he’s leaning more toward the business world now.
Occasionally, pages would debate politics. Even more rarely, Senators did, especially the older ones. But far more often pages toured the sights in the nation’s capitol together when they weren’t riding the subway between government buildings. They alternated between day and night shifts, delivered packages and communication to offices, and setting up the Senate Chamber and Senators’ desks so the lawmakers would have whatever they needed to speak on the floor.
Interaction with Senators was “very cordial,” he said, adding, “They loved us!” One day Vice-President Joe Biden was on the floor.
Since returning to school and in the midst of the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer, Campbell has a fresh perspective to share in his classes.
Ever open to opportunities, he is making the most of his two years in Middle College. He plans to take enough courses outside the dual credit plan so that he can earn the general education requirements for an Associate in Arts degree. In other words, he will be halfway through college at the same time he graduates from Graves County High School next May.
“I guess I’m ready for college now,” he said, with a grin. “It was pretty much 24/7 that you’re with 30 pages from Louisville, Alaska, California, all over. It was a life-changing experience for four weeks.”