ACHIEVERS: Trip to Girls State preps students for next level
Several local teenage girls began this school year with more self-confidence and a deeper appreciation of government because they attended the 64th annual American Legion Auxiliary Girls State.
They attended Girls State from June 5 through 11 at the University of Arizona in Tucson and stayed in the dorms.
Kristen Martin, daughter of Tammy and Brian Martin of Prescott Valley and a senior at Bradshaw Mountain High School, said she gained "just overall confidence.
"I'm more comfortable meeting new people now," Kristen said. "I was a very shy person before, and I kind of broke out of my shell."
Kristen, 17, attended with close friend Ayla Bowman, also a 17-year-old senior at Bradshaw Mountain and resident of Prescott Valley.
"It was self-confidence building," Ayla said. "You learn a lot, and you learn to be more open. I did not know much about government when I started at Girls State."
Ayla, the eldest of four children of Lee and Tim Bowman, acknowledged her primary news source is "The Colbert Report," the faux news show that airs on Comedy Central.
Ayla and Kristen were among 300 teenage girls from Arizona who took part in Girls State, a leadership conference that is designed to provide practical insight into the workings of government.
A key component of Girls State involves mock senate sessions complete with debating of bills that range in topics from personal issues to political concerns. The girls participated in campaigns to elect city, county, party and state officials. Whoever is elected governor and secretary of state returns the following year to preside over Arizona Girls State.
The girls participated on four floors of a building, said Emily Rupp, a senior at Prescott High School. Each hallway represented a city, the three hallways per floor served as a county, and the four counties made up a state government.
Emily, daughter of Doug and Laurie Rupp of Prescott, said she ran unsuccessfully for governor and ended up serving as director of health administration.
"I definitely learned a lot about campaigning," Emily said. "We had a lot of (guest) speakers, and they told us where the money goes."
Emily said she is co-captain of the girls cross-country team with Girls State participant Samantha Austin, who was unavailable for comment.
Shelbi Hanson and Ranita Sorensen of Ash Fork, and Bagdad residents Ashlynn Loveall and Emily Webster also participated at Girls State.
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