LEWISTON — One Lewiston High School student is about to get the education of a lifetime next semester: working as a page in the U.S. Senate.

Amanda Alberda, 16, the daughter of Pete and Barbara Alberda, a librarian and social worker, has been selected by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to be Collins’ Senate page.

It’s a post given to 30 high school students nationwide. Of the nation’s 100 senators, the 30 most senior senators get pages. “Some states don’t get a page,” Alberda said.

From February through June, Alberda will live in a dorm in Washington, D.C., work in the Senate during the afternoons, and attend the Senate Page School between the U.S. Capitol Building and U.S. Supreme Court in the mornings.

“Who can say that?! It’s crazy!” said Alberda, thrilled and surprised that her application was chosen.

During an interview at the high school, Alberda came across as a natural choice.

In the fifth grade, her parents took her to Disney World in Florida. They also toured museums in Washington, D.C.

“I loved the D.C. trip way more than Florida,” she said. As early as the fifth grade, “I could see myself living in D.C.”

In the eighth grade, Alberda and her father toured Georgetown University. Walking through dorm buildings, “you walk up the stairs, there’s this huge balcony with views of the Potomac and monuments,” she said with wide eyes.

Her dream is to attend Georgetown University and become a lawyer in international affairs.

As a freshman, Alberda was involved in Seeds of Peace, an internationally recognized conflict resolution and youth leadership organization started in memory of the late Samantha Smith. The Seeds of Peace “got me involved in civics and law.”

As a sophomore, she researched and proposed changing Lewiston High School’s dress code after she and others were brought to the office because their outfits didn’t pass the “fingertips” rule. They were deemed too short.

As she dove into analyzing the old dress code and more gender-neutral dress codes, “I decided I really liked policy, changing it to help people.”

This year she researched what kind of experience she could get involved in. She came across the Senate Page program.

“This one was so big, so prestigious,” Alberda said. It seemed like a long shot. “But I thought, well the answer’s already no if I don’t apply.’”

She applied, asking “lots and lots of people to help me.” She got advice and endorsements from her teachers, her guidance counselor, Seeds of Peace contacts, her parents and from state Reps. Peggy Rotundo and Jared Golden, both Democrats from Lewiston.

She wrote and rewrote her application and essay on why she wanted to be a page. On Nov. 20, she found out she was selected.

Lewiston High School Principal Shawn Chabot on Monday announced to the Lewiston School Committee that Alberda had been selected to the prestigious page program.

“It’s quite an honor for herself, for Lewiston High School and the community,” Chabot said. Alberda was asked to rise and accept congratulations.

Working as a page will involve preparing the Senate chambers for session, delivering documents, bills and amendments and delivering messages between senators.

Alberda hasn’t yet met Collins in person. She’s listened to Collins speak and has researched her positions.

“She said some things that resonated with me,” such as how to be a good leader. Collins has worked to give schools flexibility under the No Child Left Behind laws. When Collins ran for governor and didn’t win, she didn’t quit, Alberda said.

Alberda said she admires how Collins has occasionally crossed her party line. “Having the versatility to do what you think is best, not necessarily the party line, is important.”

Alberda will be a senior next year. She plans to apply to Georgetown and have a more normal year at Lewiston High School, making time to play lacrosse and go to the prom.

“I’ve never gone to the prom,” she said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.