My Journey Through the State Capitol


California State Senate chamber

Bethany Chouinard, Staff Writer

On October 9th I had the amazing opportunity to tour the State Capital in Sacramento, and then lead a presentation to the Superintendent of California Schools, Tom Torlakson.

My morning started around 10 am when our van full of students and Contra Costa County officials arrived in Sacramento. Our goal was to inform Superintendent Torlakson and his colleagues of the current and past conditions of mental health services within California’s High Schools.

But first, we were going to have some fun. We arrived at the main entrance of the Capitol building. I felt like I was in shock. I felt so proud of myself, how far I had come in order to be there in that moment. For a time I had lived in Sacramento, but I was far too young to ever appreciate the Capitol building, nor did I ever get to tour it. All I knew was that it was important, and kind of looked like a building in Washington D.C.

My group spent a while taking pictures and enjoying the scenery. The air smelled like freshly cut grass and we were surrounded by so many trees that all I could see was green.

Inside the building, our tour guide was very informed on the history of not only the Capital building but Sacramento as well. We were told about all of the small mistakes that artists made within the details of the building. The artists brought in for the reconstruction of the 20th Century were told that they could not put their names on anything, and all of their art had to be exactly as described. Obviously, red-tape is not something a group of free-thinking creatives is used to, so they would give a lion five toes on its paw instead of four, or switch a tiny black tile for a white one, or even scratch their wife’s name under a staircase.

There were a million tiny details and pieces of history like that all over the building. We even were able to enter the State Senate chambers. The Victorian red carpet gave the room a warm feeling and the breathtaking statue of Athena above the Head of the Senate evoked a sense of pride within me. She was here to guard our freedoms, and she will always be there, so long as the people need them.

The raised ceilings, historic artwork, and natural light throughout the building made it feel like we were walking through a Cathedral in Rome.

That tour of the Capital building was something that I will never forget and is something that has sparked a fire in me that will hopefully never go out.