Emo youth selected for page program

Heather Latter

There were screams of joy and excitement ringing throughout the Martin household in Emo earlier this month when 12-year-old Star Martin got the call.
“The girl said congratulations and asked if I knew why she was saying that,” the Grade 7 student recalled.
“Then she told me I was accepted to be a page [at Queen’s Park].
“When I got off the phone, I screamed as loud as I could because I told my mom that if I made it, I would scream as loud as I could,” she giggled.
Martin had applied to the Legislative Page Program back in November.
“I had to write an essay, fill out an application, and get the school to fill out a bunch of forms,” she explained.
“I knew that there are hundreds of applications that go in and they only accept a certain amount, so I didn’t think there was a big chance,” she admitted.
Having to wait that long to hear made her think she hadn’t been selected.
“So when I was, it was even more exciting,” Martin enthused.
Open to all Ontario students enrolled in Grade 7 or 8, the page program is a unique educational experience that provides an opportunity to work in the legislative chamber, as well as explore the history and traditions of the legislative assembly.
“When I was younger, my mom told me that one of her friends as a kid got to go be a page,” Martin noted.
“And some of my friends have had relatives or friends participate.
“I [thought] it would be something new to try and do,” she reasoned.
“I thought it would be a lot of fun to meet different people and to learn about the government.”
According to the website, the program is designed for outgoing, high-achieving, community-involved students who have demonstrated responsibility and leadership.
Pages experience the provincial legislature in action, meet key parliamentary and political figures, and learn first-hand about Ontario’s parliament and legislative process.
They also have the opportunity to forge new lifelong friendships with peers from all over the province.
“I hope that I will have lots of different stories and experiences to talk about when I get back because I haven’t travelled very far before,” Martin said.
“This will be the furthest I have gone.
“I’m really excited,” she enthused, adding she also thinks having participated in the page program will help her get into a good post-secondary institution down the road.
Martin said she wasn’t told why she was selected to be a page, but thinks her wide-array of interests might have helped.
“I like to participate in a bunch of different stuff,” she remarked.
“I do sports, singing, volunteer, so I think the variety might have helped.”
In her application essay, Martin said she has been waiting for several years to apply for the page program.
“I am so excited that I am finally in Grade 7 and the day is here at last,” she wrote.
She continued by noting she has been called a “natural-born leader.”
“It took me a while to really figure out what that means,” Martin admitted.
“But I am beginning to see that it’s because I am actively involved in so many things.”
Martin went on to list her athletic achievements, such as striving to beat her personal best time at cross-country meets, being chosen as the MVP at a hockey tournament, and as the most improved player on her hockey team last year.
She also said she loves to sing.
“I have been singing since I was five years old, and I love to participate in district music festivals,” she wrote.
“I love that I can connect with other people through my singing.”
Martin noted she also enjoys writing and learning, and has participated in the local “I Am Awesome! (And I Know It!)” self-esteem and empowerment retreat for young women for the past two years.
And she is active at school, being a member of the student council, Playground Activity Leaders (PALs), and an Early Years lunch classroom worker.
“I believe that I would be an ideal candidate for the Legislative Page Program because I am very determined, responsible, and kind,” Martin wrote in her essay.
“I am a hard worker and I love learning new things!
“I am smart and I am the top academic student in my class because I am dedicated to always doing my best,” she added.
“She has so much confidence and I think that this opportunity will only enhance her self-esteem and leadership skills,” said her aunt, Renée Martin-Brown, who helped Martin with her application for the page program.
“She is going to meet other enthusiastic students from across Ontario and I am so thrilled that she has been chosen to participate,” Martin-Brown added.
“She will be a wonderful ambassador for her school and our community.”
Martin’s two-week stint at Queen’s Park begins on May 25. She also has to travel to Toronto on May 8 for an orientation.
She will celebrate her 13th birthday while participating in the page program.
Due to the cost for her and her dad to travel to Toronto, as well as to pay for accommodations while there, Martin will be holding a fundraising to help her offset the expenses.
A dance/sock hop is being planned for April 2 at the Emo Legion, with prizes to be won and fun to be had.
“We hope that youth from across the district will come out to support Star,” said Martin-Brown.
In addition to finding accommodations, Martin also be do some “studying” to prepare to be a page in the interim.
“They are sending me a package in the mail that I have to study, and I have to learn the names of the people in parliament,” she noted.
“It’s supposed to be a huge package but I have a few months so hopefully I can get it down.”
Martin already has spoken with Mira Donaldson of Fort Frances, who participated in the page program last year.
“She told me some different things and gave me some ideas of what to expect,” Martin said.
“I just think it’s going to be a really great opportunity.”