This spring, Chenango Valley High School junior Katerina Retzlaff will spend a majority of her time frequenting the headquarters of our nation’s House of Representatives and Senate, the United States Capitol Building. Her ambitious journey was prompted by an earlier visit to the location.
“A few years ago I was on vacation in D.C., visiting the Capitol, and saw young people around,” said Retzlaff. “When I asked a volunteer what they were doing, they told me about the Page Program.”
With her interest sparked, Retzlaff researched more on the U.S. Senate Page Program and learned about the qualifications to become a Page, a non-partisan federal employee who serves the Senate. When the time came, she applied to be one herself.
“A lot of people said I didn’t have a chance to get in,” said Retzlaff. “I didn’t let that stop me and now I’m going to D.C.”
Sponsored by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Retzlaff will make her way to Washington, D.C. in late January to serve in the program for a little over four months.
“I’m a little nervous, since this is the longest time I’ve ever been away from my parents, but I’m excited to meet new people and for the opportunities and connections you can make,” said Retzlaff. “So, overall, I’m very excited.”
Serving as one of 30 Pages in the prestigious program this term, Katerina will attend the U.S. Senate Page School on weekday mornings, followed directly by work in the Capitol. She will play an important role in the day-to-day operations of the Senate, such as helping to prepare the Senate Chamber for sessions.
“Basically, we’ll help things run smooth,” said Retzlaff.
Retzlaff said she’s looking forward to the experience of working firsthand with the U.S. government. With senior year and college applications approaching in the fall, she hopes it could also help to narrow down her future aspirations.
“I’m thinking of political science, but not sure what I want to do,” said Retzlaff. “I want to see what interests me the most.”
Chenango Valley High School Counselor Karen Mullins and Principal Jennifer Ostrander believe Katerina’s sense of determination will take her far.
“I was happy to recommend Katerina,” said Mullins. “She had the courage to step out of the box for a very competitive position and didn’t let the competition discourage her, but instead used it to motivate her.”
“We were so thrilled hear that Katerina was chosen to participate in this program. It is rare for a high school student to have such an immersive experience in the workings of our government,” said Ostrander. “This will certainly shape her as not only a student, but as a citizen and future voter. We’re all so proud of Katerina and her hard work!”
The Chenango Valley Central School District wishes Katerina the best of luck and congratulates her on this exceptional accomplishment.