Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
Since 2016, Franklin High School Junior Audra Cloer has spent her free time studying the state’s Page programs to get a firsthand look at how the North Carolina General Assembly operates.
“I am very proud of Audra making the trip to Raleigh,” said Wendi Cloer, Audra’s mother. “Serving as a Page she has developed some important life skills like communication and the importance of community service. This bright young lady has learned so much about how the government works.”
North Carolina’s Page Programs offer young men and women the opportunity to learn about and participate in the legislative process of the state. It is a week-long experience that allows high school students between the ages of 15 (or 14 if already in the 9th grade) and 18, to observe firsthand how state laws are made. It provides them the unique privilege of working in the midst of legislative action.
Last week, Cloer spent her third week in Raleigh, this time serving as a Page for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. As a freshman, Cloer served as a Page for Senator Jim Davis and as a sophomore she completed the Page program for North Carolina House Representative Kevin Corbin.
“I wanted to be a Governor’s Page because I loved having the experience,” said Cloer. “I also wanted to have the opportunity to page for all the legislatures in North Carolina.”
As an experienced Page in the legislature, Cloer spent much of last week showing the ropes to new pages experiencing the program for the first time. She was able to polish off her leadership skills, while completing daily tasks for the governor’s office.
“While I was paging for Governor Cooper we mostly took a lot of tours and met heads of the N.C. Departments,” said Cloer. “The other pages and I did some office work for him and his staff and had the opportunity to meet with them.”
Established in 1973, the Governor’s Page Program gives high school students from all over North Carolina the opportunity to come to Raleigh for a week of hands-on participation in their state government. The objective of the Page Program is to represent North Carolina’s diverse communities and help inspire a new generation of leaders.
The program is designed to help students grow in four key areas:
• Civics. Pages will see first-hand the three different branches of government and how they work together to serve the people of North Carolina.
• History. Pages will learn about our shared history so that we can better understand the present.
• Service. Pages will learn more about the importance of community and civil service, and the impact it has on our state.
• Professional Development. Pages will develop skills needed for entering higher education or the workforce.
“I am so proud of Audra for her initiative to complete all the steps required by North Carolina to even be considered for each of these very competitive assignments,” said Lee Cloer, Audra’s father. “When she describes to me what she has seen, heard, and learned following each year I beam with pride. The knowledge and experience she has gained of how the three different branches of N.C. Government interact and the friendships she developed cannot be measured in a few words or pictures but will pay dividends over her lifetime.”
“We went on a lot of tours through Raleigh,” said Cloer. “We also met with the main coordinators for all departments in the state. In the Senate and House of Representatives Page programs we actually sat in session in the chamber. The other pages and I were accountable for handing out papers and making sure that they all had everything they needed during session.”
Cloer said navigating the state building and meeting with department heads wasn’t the most difficult part of the job, but rather just the trip getting there proved to be difficult.
“The drive wasn’t that exciting and I had blisters all over my feet from walking so much,” Cloer said of the hardest part of the experience.
While Cloer has some pretty impressive credentials to add to her resume through her experience in the NC General Assembly’s Page Programs, she said her favorite part is the experience and knowledge she has gained on state government.
“I have many favorites while being a page for our state, but my favorite is that I have can officially say that I have met all 50 Senators, 100 members of the House of Representatives, and now the governor,” said Cloer. “I also have met and become close friends with other pages throughout our state. The friendships I made there will never be forgotten.”
While Cloer has officially completed all the Page Programs North Carolina has to offer, there are additional opportunities she can consider. United States Congress doesn’t have a page program, but does have the possibility of Internships that Cloer could apply for in the future.
“We are so proud of Audra’s outstanding work and representation of Western North Carolina’s students through the Page Program,” said Congressman Mark Meadows. “She clearly has a bright future ahead! We need more in Washington, D.C. like her and would be glad to assist in any way we can.”