110 years after the Virginia State Capitol was built, business was happening per usual in the House and Senate with one exception: Higher Achievement scholars were watching attentively. Their visit on March 8th, was made possible through Richmond’s Advisory Board member, Deputy Secretary of Education, Dr. Deitra Trent. Within minutes of being seated, scholars were welcomed warmly by the General Assembly. They stood proudly as their commitment to Higher Achievement and their future was praised for all to hear.
Then scholars were led to another section of the Capitol by Pages, students almost the same age as the scholars. A few murmurs passed through the scholar groups, curious about the two Pages who sat poised, fervently absorbed by their work. Dr. Trent spoke with the scholars about the importance of local government, how it effects their futures, and seized the moment to introduce the two Pages. Without hesitation, they engage the scholars and quickly gain the attention of every ear.
Senate Pages work full days Monday – Thursday, and lighter hours on Friday. Their chief duty is to run errands and assist the Senators during floor sessions and committee meetings – with seemingly countless other specific tasks and responsibilities. The Pages created a deep connection with scholars when they explained how they maintain professional decorum at all times, exhibit exemplary behavior, a can-do attitude and a willingness to learn.
Immediately after their talk, Higher Achievement Richmond’s Executive Director Tyren Frazier and Dr. Trent tested to see if this conversation resonated with the scholars. Hands shot up immediately: “The expectations of Pages are the same as the expectations of Higher Achievement scholars”. When recruiting potential scholars, one aspect Higher Achievement seeks, is strong motivation and determination to succeed. Scholars admitted into the program adhere to the same level of expectations for all four years. Frazier and Trent asked the scholars, “So who wants to be a Page?” Just as fast, countless hands flew into the air.
With positive affirmation that scholars have been given the preparation to work at Capitol – another opportunity for their boundless talent – they walked to the front steps of the Capitol to meet with Governor McAuliffe (and Daisy, the first dog). After briefly speaking about the importance of academic rigor and college, the groups concluded their tour with lunch with Secretary Holton, and a tour of the Executive Mansion.
Just as Higher Achievement’s mission states, “Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not” – scholars apply their firsthand experience and hard work to achieve incredible accomplishments. Perhaps in a year or two you may read soon about the Virginia State Capitol’s newest addition to the staff!
You can keep up with Richmond scholars by following them on Facebook @higherachievement.richmond.