ATLANTA-- About two dozen fourth-graders like Makayla Bramlett woke at the early hour of 6 a.m. to skip school in Macon and tour a building that is, well, better than a social studies class.
Its not like anything in Macon, said Bramlett, after she and her fellow Tattnall Square Academy students squeezed through crowds and into schedules for a tour of the state Capitol building in Atlanta -- and photos with the House speaker and Gov. Nathan Deal.
It didnt look like what Marla Castro-Poveda expected under the shiny Gold Dome that she saw from the freeway Thursday morning. I liked seeing Miss Georgia (Teen) and Governor Deal, she said.
Indeed, Noelle Hughley, the beauty queen in question, happened to be gliding around the building too, along with some other crowned heads, the subjects of honorary resolutions.
The students came on a busy day, met on the curb by a pair of legislative spouses turned tour guides: Paul Holmes, belonging to state Rep. Susan Holmes, R-Monticello, and Kathryn Epps, the wife of state Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch.
I do this about a dozen times a year, said Paul Holmes, who is at the Capitol most days a week and helps his wife with constituent services, just like Kathryn Epps with her husband. Its a joy, he said.
The state Capitol doubles as a museum, with exhibits such as a Hank Aaron baseball bat and an old, wooden ballot box, the kind that used to be stuffed.
Day 25 of the annual 40 day legislative session was a busy one in the building, as lobbyists, activists and students pursued business and took pictures.
Its tangible, something they can see to match whats in their social studies lessons, class mom and chaperone Esther Suarez said of her own first trip to the Capitol.
Its an adventure, she said, after spending the better part of two hours wrangling children into photo ops and squeezing through shoulder-to-shoulder crowds in a building that manages to get stuffy on a 65-degree day. But, Id do it again, she said.
Some things were more interesting than others.
The students flocked to Hughley for pictures and hugs in the big atrium, turning their backs a bit on Holmes Georgia history tales. They also got a little restless when Holmes waylaid Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Corbin and tried to explain what a department is and what its boss does.
The tour ended across the street at the Department of Agriculture building, with lunch and a lesson on what food safety inspectors do.
Bramlett said the Capitol building is beautiful and big and maybe she would like to work there one day.
I would like to meet a lot of people, she said.
School groups interested in a tour and a possible photo with the governor can contact their state legislator and ask them to try and arrange it.
The building is open year-round, but its busiest in January, February and March on days when the Legislature is meeting.