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Teen talks about page life

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An Ozone Park teen with a passion for politics who was selected for the prestigious U.S. House of Representatives Page Program said the experience opened his eyes to how the country’s government is run.

Pablo Zevallos, 16, an incoming junior at the Collegiate School in Manhattan, finished the program July 31, where he tallied votes in Congress with the supervisor of the clerk’s office, delivered bills to members of Congress and got statements from elected officials printed in the congressional record.

“I really learned a lot about the process — how Congress really operates,” Pablo said. “You see how members do focus their attention on their constituents as well as national issues.”

Pablo found out he was selected for the program in February on the same day he was elected class president.

“I was truly elated,” he said. “I was really happy because I really wanted to do this. I’ve always been interested in politics. It’s really a battle every day.”

Only 71 students throughout the country were selected for the exclusive program. To become eligible, a student most have at least a 3.0 grade point average and be at least 16 years old.

The student has to be sponsored by a member of Congress — U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) in Pablo’s case — and nominees are then selected by the Page Program board, which consists of congressional members from both political parties, the clerk of the House of Representatives, the House sergeant at arms, the parent of a former page and a former page.

“Pablo is a wonderful ambassador for Ozone Park, and our entire community is proud of what he has accomplish­ed,” Weiner said in a statement. “When he’s president of the United States, I’ll be able to say I knew him when.”

Pablo said after he graduates from high school, he plans to attend college in the Northeast, become a lawyer and eventually run for elected office.

But Pablo said Weiner does not have to worry about being challenged by him.

“I wouldn’t run against Congressman Weiner,” he said. “I think he’s done a great job for the district. You really know the passion of what he stands for.”

Aside from his page duties, Pablo also attended a Washington, D.C., school where he attended classes for a couple of hours each week dedicated to four subjects: leadership, government, international relations and journalism.

While Pablo sat in on many House sessions during his stint as a page, he was not in the chamber when Weiner launched his infamous tirade at Rep. Peter King (R-Massapequa Park) over funding health care for Ground Zero volunteers.

“I unfortunately missed that,” he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 6:01 pm, October 10, 2011
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