Ty Martin will set aside his casual school attire and don a suit, tie and black dress shoes when he begins his first day at the United States Senate Page School later this month in Washington, D.C.
The Neshoba Central High School junior was accepted into the prestigious school after being nominated by Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
Martin, who is president of the Neshoba County Teenage Republicans, got his first taste of politics while serving as a page in the Mississippi House of Representatives for Republican Scott Bounds of Philadelphia. He is also vice president of the Mississippi Teenage Republicans.
His favorite U. S. president was Ronald Reagan and his favorite governor was William Winter.
Neshoba County Superintendent of Education Lundy Brantley said he was so proud of Martin “for his drive and courage to pursue this opportunity. This is such a great honor for him and will pay great dividends for him in the future. I have great admiration for him for being willing to leave home to accomplish his dreams. We will miss him this semester and will be glad to see him when he returns.”
Martin said Dr. Brantley has been a big influence on his life.
Senate page duties consist primarily of delivery of correspondence and legislative material within the Congressional complex. Other duties include preparing the chamber for Senate sessions and carrying bills and amendments to the desk.
Pages attend classes in the early morning at the United States Senate Page School, a program fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Pages serve all senators of the same political party as their sponsoring senator.
They are paid an annual salary of $29,823, from which they will pay their room and board in Webster Hall.
Webster is named after the first page in the Senate.
“It was an old funeral home that was converted into a dorm. I will go to school in the basement. It’s four blocks from the capitol,” Martin said.
The building underwent an $8 million refurbishment in 1995, converting it to its current state.
Pages are required to wear suits while attending school and while they are performing their duties as pages.
“They give us four jackets, four pants, five white shirts and a tie which doesn’t come out of our pay,” Martin said. “We also get a meal card for $10 a day in the Senate cafeteria.”
Martin, who is now unenrolled from Neshoba Central, hopes to take physics, English comprehension, pre-calculus and U. S. History.
“I will come back to Neshoba Central in the fall as an out-of-state transfer,” he said, noting that the school district would recognize his credits from the Page School.
Martin is excited about his new venture but noted there would be some challenges.
“We cannot have a cell phone,” he said, pointing out that there would be a landline at the dorm for emergencies.
“Classes are from 6:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.,” he said. “I will have two or three hours of homework every night and four to five hours on weekends. I’ll have to keep an average above 75 in all subjects or be recommended for dismissal.”
Finding a nearby Catholic church will be among his priorities.
“I also have to find a barbershop,” he said with a laugh.
On the flip side, Martin will get a two-week spring break in April.
He is most excited about his work as a page in the capitol.
“We are each given a Senate ID card that gives us access to areas like the Library of Congress,” Martin said.
“I will also get to ride the subway train that is just for senators. There is a track that runs under the capitol that I can ride to gain access inside.”
Abuse of the Senate ID card comes with dire consequences, Martin said.
“The page handbook details how much time you are going to jail if you miss use the card,” he said with a smile.
Martin has been interested in politics since he served as a page at a younger age in the Mississippi House.
“I left with the attitude that I needed to do something different,” he said. “I needed something more to fill my time. I saw the important work that was being done.”
AP World History teacher a ‘driving force’
Martin’s interest in politics continued to flourish when he took AP World History as a ninth grader at Neshoba Central, which was taught by Candi Hall.
“She’s been a driving force for me,” Martin said. “I learned a lot about world politics in her class. Ms. Hall was really impressed by my appointment.”
She knew Martin was interested in history but it quickly became apparent he was interested in government and politics as well. It was an interest that she also shared.
Hall described Martin as a great student “who always asked intriguing questions seeking to gain as much knowledge as possible. Ty is not a typical student who is in class to learn for the sake of the test. He likes to learn for the sake of building a knowledge base to connect the past to the present and then to the future. He tries to see the big picture.”
This mindset has been a major factor in his interest in government and politics, she said.
“I believe Ty has the fortitude to help move Mississippi into the next generation of strong leadership,” Hall said. “I'm so proud of how he wants to be the catalyst for a positive future for our state and how he has taken action to do so at such a young age. Students like Ty are few and far between. I'm blessed to have been his teacher and to possibly, in some small way, be an influence that led him in this direction.”
After graduation, Martin hopes to earn a degree in political science and then attend law school.
“I want a law degree but if that doesn’t work out, at least I’ll have a background where I can work on campaigns,” he said.
Martin spends most of his free time fulfilling his duties with the county and state TARs groups. He’s done numerous speaking engagements throughout Central Mississippi.
During the last city election, Neshoba TARS provided 50 man hours helping one Republican candidate campaign by passing out campaign literature door-to-door, he said.
“We walked most every street in Philadelphia,” he said.
The Neshoba TARS meets once a month in the American Legion Building.
Martin is the son of Pat and Ann Marie Martin of Philadelphia. He is the grandson of Sandra and Ricky Martin of Philadelphia and Louis and Carolyn Shipp of Yazoo City.
Story and photo by Debbie Burt Myers