DOWNEY - Delegates from each district within California met at Claremont McKenna College on June 26 for a weeklong Girls State citizenship training program, hosted by the American Legion Auxiliary.Two delegates, one from Warren and one from Downey High, were selected as this year's delegates for Unit #270 in District 19. Members of this unit both selected and financially sponsored the delegates for the program. Selected Girls State delegates participated in a political simulation during their time at the program, as they actively learned about government by creating a state through the election of public officials on local, county, and state levels. During Girls State, participants were exposed to the rights, privileges, responsibilities, and duties of a franchised citizen. The program included legislative sessions, court proceedings, student-run elections of officials, a daily newspaper, band and choir, talent show, and more. This year, Secretary of State Debra Bowen attended an assembly, where she spoke to the delegates as the guest speaker. Each of the seven days was packed with various activities geared towards informing each participant and showing these young ladies the unlimited potential for success. Through the student-run elections held during the program, a multiplicity of positions gradually filled as the filing process, campaigning, and speeches were made by running candidates. Whether a city mayor, state senator, superintendent of schools, or district attorney, each position has specific duties that are carried out through the week. However, the program also allows for students from all over California to connect and establish friendships. Through City Friendship Time, Girls State Singalong, and a swarm of new people to meet every day, close ties were created during Girls State, as many were sad by the end of the week to depart from their newfound friends. A thriving program since its birth in 1937 as a National Americanism activity, Girls State has succeeded in achieving its goal of cultivating young women, teaching them the rights and responsibilities of an American citizen, and instilling a love for God and the country into the youth. Not only does Girls State exist within California, but each and every state in America, excluding Hawaii, also hosts its own Girls State program. This extensive program started out on a small scale, with a few hundred participants. Now, the program has grown to include nearly 20,000 participants annually, bringing the total number of participants to nearly 1 million, and still growing. Girls State delegates are selectively chosen based on academic performance, leadership potential, and dedication to community service. Each of the 500 sponsored high schools is only allowed to send one delegate per school, and thus admission into the program is highly competitive. Specific selection processes differ from district to district. For Unit #270, the unit under which Downey is categorized within, the primary process of selecting a delegate is through interviews by the Unit Girls State Chairman. Each high school allows a select few girls to enter into the interview process, and afterwards, one delegate is selected per school by a selection committee, consisting of the Unit Chairman(s), administrators and teachers, as well as the previous year's Girls State attendee. Dedicated in continuing the success of Girls State, the Girls State Alumnae Foundation strives to contribute to the program, and is a non-profit charitable corporation run entirely by volunteers. Girls State members throughout the nation create a strong alumnae network, due to the Alumnae Foundation. Boys State, a parallel to the Girls State program, was held separately from June 19-26, at Cal State Sacramento.
********** Published: July 15, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 13