With their junior year of high school behind them, Natalie Black and Kathleen Kelly were two of the nearly 300 young women from across Arizona who attended the 64th American Legion Auxiliary Girls State on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, June 5-11.
This premier program is a leadership conference designed to provide practical insight into the working of government, to instill a sense of pride and loyalty to America and create friendships and memories that last a lifetime. Black and Kelly attend Payson High School.
A key component of the Girls State program involves mock senate sessions complete with debating of bills that range in topic from personal issues to political concerns. Campaigns are held to elect city, county, party and state officials. The elected governor and secretary of state return to preside over the following year’s Arizona Girls State.
In addition to legislative forums, the girls hear distinguished guest speakers. “The Girls State experience is one of both privilege and responsibility. While it offers each girl amazing opportunities for personal growth, there is certainly the expectation that she will be energized to share that learned knowledge with others in her local community,” said Penny Maklary, the director of Arizona American Legion Auxiliary Girls State.
Maklary, along with American Legion Auxiliary volunteers, former girls state citizens and educators encourage the delegates to continue their community service and practice good citizenship.