A Garfield High School student, Philmon Haile, has been selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve as a page in the House of Representatives. The 16-year-old was nominated by Rep. Jim McDermott of the 7th Congressional District, and will live near the nation's Capitol in page housing and will work in the House of Representatives during the upcoming fall term, according to the Seattle School District.
Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson said, "This is an exciting and fabulous opportunity for Philmon and will be an experience he remembers the rest of his life. He will have the rare opportunity to see the House of Representatives conduct our nation's business. We are very proud that a Seattle Public Schools student has been selected for this very unique program."
"I am very happy to have been selected to participate in the 2007-2008 House Page program," Haile said. "I'm very excited to be traveling to Washington, D.C. — a city that I've never been to. I'm very interested in politics, so I know this will be a wonderful and rewarding experience. This program is a great way I can give back to my country for what it has given to me and my family."
Haile, a junior at Garfield High School, has a long list of academic achievements, including maintaining a very high grade point average, winning the school's "What a Marvelous Student" award six times, winning a National Honor Roll award two years in a row and receiving the Ku' Onesha Award, which is the academic achievement award given to African Americans at Garfield High School. He also has an outstanding record of civic, community and extracurricular involvement, including Key Club, Kiwanis, One World Now! and Team Read, which tutors children who are reading below their grade level.
Haile's selection is especially poignant because his family emigrated from Eritrea where his father fought for independence and was wounded in battle. Haile speaks Tigrigna, Eritrea's language, fluently. The family eventually escaped to Sudan and finally was able to come to the United States. As one person said in a letter of recommendation, "Being a naturalized citizen from the Horn of Africa, he has an immediate appreciation of what it means to be an American."