Pagosa Springs student plays senator for a day

Girls With Goals program gives close-up look at halls of power

Emily Rockensock, 11, left, shadowed Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, in the state Senate on Monday. Emily was chosen from Senate District 6 for Girls With Goals day. It was second straight year the Senate has invited fifth-grade girls to the Capitol for a day of civics education. Emily is the daughter of William and Candace Rockensock. Enlarge photo

JOE HANEL/Durango Herald

Emily Rockensock, 11, left, shadowed Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, in the state Senate on Monday. Emily was chosen from Senate District 6 for Girls With Goals day. It was second straight year the Senate has invited fifth-grade girls to the Capitol for a day of civics education. Emily is the daughter of William and Candace Rockensock.

DENVER – Sometimes it takes a fifth-grader to see how things really work.

Pagosa Springs Middle School student Emily Rockensock joined 34 other fifth-graders from around Colorado on the floor of the state Senate on Monday for the annual Girls With Goals day.

Each of the girls had been nominated by a teacher and then chosen by a senator to be “senator for a day,” shadowing the grown-up lawmakers, attending seminars and playing games about civics and life at the Capitol.

The girls competed for a scholarship by writing an essay about what job they would like to have at the Capitol. Some of them picked a senator; others wanted to be governor.

Emily, though, gravitated toward a job that requires a different skill set.

“I wanted to be the Senate secretary,” she said. “I just like working hard and keeping things on track. I work hard all the time.”

The real-life secretary of the Senate, Cindi Markwell, sat near Emily on Monday morning when the girls visited the Senate floor.

From her perch behind the Senate’s central desk, Markwell kept things on track – making sure senators make the legally correct motions at the right time, supervising a staff of clerks and ensuring votes are recorded correctly, even when the Senate has to vote twice because a senator voted the wrong way the first time. (It happens frequently, including Monday morning.)

Emily, 11, sat next to Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, in the front row on the Republican side of the Senate chamber. She and Roberts talked about the bills senators debated Monday.

Senators spent most of the morning arguing if the state government should create a smartphone app to promote locally owned businesses or whether that’s a task for the private sector. They also voted on several other bills.

“She was paying attention and she was interested in learning the process,” Roberts said. “I think it’s great to have them up here and get that firsthand experience.”

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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