Up close view of politics


Submitted by Sheldon Jensen

Sheldon Jensen (2nd in from the left in back row) pictured with his Capitol Page group

Bernadette Donlon, Writer

Individual’s passions are fulfilled by their choice to become involved in their community. At OHS, opportunities are available for all students to participate in what they love, however for students such as junior Sheldon Jensen, the opportunity to participate in his passion can also be a high honor. Jensen has the drive to educate himself and his peers in politics and flourishes in the subject, and from Feb. 20- 24, he assisted as a page at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Jensen heard about the 40 year old page program from OHS teacher, Mr. John Weide. As the first OHS student to take part in this program for many years, it was a delightful surprise for him to participate. Jensen said, “I chose to attend this program because I feel like it’s good to see the process of government at a local level.”  For 10 weeks of the year, 80 high school juniors throughout Minnesota spend time in the State Capitol as pages, eight each week, and Jensen was selected as one of the students to participate in this enriching experience.

Sheldon had the chance to meet with many representatives as well as people with a variety of political jobs. Some of these included Steve Simon (the Secretary of State), Reviser of Statutes Jeff Kase, Speaker of The House Kurt Daudt and various members of committee administration. His conversations with these individuals gave Jensen’s group of pages a chance to learn more about specific jobs and ask questions they might have had about politics. Thomas Hollien, a Political Science professor at Valparaiso University, was the page group’s adviser. “He was the kindest human ever,” said Sheldon, “He created a great environment for all the pages.”

While spending time at the capitol, the group of 10 pages had various activities to participate in. When on the House floor, pages would assist representatives when asked, handing out papers, setting the floor for meetings, cleaning up afterwards, and performing other miscellaneous tasks. Jensen’s group had a special opportunity – to see a discussion containing both the House and the Senate, his particular page group was the only one to witness this because of the timing of the meeting held.

“It seemed like they (state politicians) really know who they are; the people they represent always come first.

— Sheldon Jensen

Jensen’s group also participated in a mock committee session. The group of pages selected a bill from the capitol’s library, researched fine details, came up with arguments for and against it then held a discussion. This experience was similar to what the state representatives do in their committees. Sheldon’s ‘role’ was a business owner that wanted the bill selected to be implemented, and he got a chance to propose his side as he might someday if given the opportunity to be a state representative.

Jensen’s program experience was enriching and memorable for many reasons. “This opportunity lets you into other aspects of our great constitutional system,” said Jensen, “It’s not one normal citizens get to see.” One aspect of his time at the capitol stands above the others‒ his interactions with non-politician representatives. Regardless of representatives’ occupations, there was a clear theme of care for the people. Jensen said, “When you hear about politics on the news, it’s all seemingly corrupt, but at the local level, people know their constituents. They know what the people they represent want, since they can only represent 40,000 people.” He witnessed representatives refer to personal conversations they had with business owners during a bill discussion and saw the Speaker of the House himself be late because of a personal conversation with a constituent. “It seemed like they really know who they are; the people they represent always come first,” said Jensen.

In the future, Jensen plans to major in Political Science and Microeconomics. This experience gave him a better understanding of local government and helped him to form relationships with Capitol workers that will help him in and out of college. Jensen hopes to stay on more of a local level of politics, a decision he leans towards because of this experience and his work in helping representatives’ campaigns. He can see himself running for state representative or state senate. By getting an insider’s look at Minnesota’s government, Jensen has further ignited his interest and knowledge in politics. Congratulations to Sheldon Jensen for this impressive experience!