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Students track down legislators at Capitol

6:43 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - Steve Marcantonio is a student with something to say. He travelled from Greeley to the state legislature to make sure someone who can make difference will listen.

"When there's a kid telling you, my school needs things like new computers and things like that. It's a little bit harder to say no to people our age," said Marcantonio, a senior at Greeley West High School.

Marcantonio is one of dozens of students from around Colorado who converged on the Capitol for the Year of the Student Campaign. They want to talk to legislators directly to ask them to make school funding a priority for 2013.

"I'm not nervous," Marcantonio said. "It's a good cause and everything's been kinda laid out for us."

But, Marcantonio and his group of students from Weld County are about to find out what happens to the best laid plans.

Some legislators are absent from today's session. Some legislators are tied up in committee. Some legislators are just simply hard to find in the labyrinth of offices all through the Capitol building.

"We got off to a very, kind of rocky start," Marcantonio said. "But, we're quickly learning that's how it works here at the Capitol."

They went up and down from floor-to-floor, trying to chase down various Republican and Democrats who represent their district and those from other areas.

"We did a lot of running around on floors and a lot of elevator riding," Marcantonio said. "I'm trained to hear the ding of a Capitol elevator now, I guess."

But, it's the struggle that leads to a more rewarding success.

Lisa Weil is a spokesperson for the Year of the Student project. She says this is a good experience for students to see what it takes to compete with lobbyists and others for the time and ears of state legislators.

"There's really no substitute for seeing that somebody cares enough to come into the Capitol and say this is what's going on," Weil said. "This is the story that's happening in my school."

Marcantonio and his group finally got to deliver their messages to top aides, to communications officers, and finally to Rep. Jenise May, a Democrat from Aurora.

"We were able to tell her first-hand what we experience every day, which is different than reading it in a letter or an email or a text message," Marcantonio said. "She gets to look into our eyes, know that there are people out there, real people who face these issues."

Students want legislators to know that funding issues are causing class sizes to increase, technology to become obsolete, buildings to fall apart.

But, some legislators know that finding extra money may be tough as costs for other programs continually increase.

Weil says that's why students need to push the idea of 2013: Year of the Student.

"We have to come up with an answer. It's not going to be easier next year," Weil said. "That's why we said, 2013, Year of the Student, to sort of create that deadline. Everybody needs deadlines."

That's what Marcantonio and the other students are trying to say to anybody who will listen.

"We were very happy with the result," Marcantonio said.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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