June 29, 2017  

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American Legion Auxiliary Girls State Delegates Elect Officers

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Delegates to the 69th session of the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State elected statewide officers for the state of “Magnolia,” including, from left, Jayline Smith of Greenwood (governor); Precious Thompson of Magnolia (lieutenant governor); Deshaunna Shelby of Jackson (secretary of state); Kailey Gresham of Sumrall (treasurer); Annemarie Fetter of Etta (auditor); Shakira Hall of Prentiss (attorney general); and Marianna Strawn of Ocean Springs (insurance commissioner). The annual weeklong program, held June 4-9 on the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus, provides select rising high school seniors hands-on learning opportunities about the inner workings of federal, state and local government through simulated political campaigns, legislative and judicial processes in the fictitious state of “Magnolia.” State and local government officials also visited during the week to discuss with delegates their perspectives on public service and the importance of engagement in civic affairs. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

After days of campaigning that included a political rally, speeches and one-on-one appeals for votes, delegates to the 69th annual American Legion Auxiliary Girls State selected officers in a simulated election to lead the government of ‘Magnolia’ and represent it in the nation’s capital. The event was held June 4-9 at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Approximately 280 rising female high school seniors participated in the weeklong program of civic education, which teaches the mechanics of representative government with hands-on activities. The delegates also heard from and interacted with local and statewide elected officials, who gave their take on careers in public service and the importance of participatory citizenship. 

Jayline Smith of Greenwood was elected governor of Girls State, and along with fellow statewide elected officials for ‘Magnolia’ left for Jackson June 8 to meet their counterparts. Other delegates won campaigns for local offices in the mock elections, as well as senators for Girls Nation which is scheduled for July 22-29 in Washington, D.C.

“I’m truly honored to represent such an inspiring group of young women, who are going to be our future leaders,” Smith said.

Smith’s experience at Girls State taught her that there are people working in government who truly care about the people they serve. She hopes her fellow delegates will consider a career doing the same.

“There are so many voices being silenced in politics, but it’s time to bring a microphone to those voices to have a better Mississippi, a better country and a better world,” she said. 

Girls State Director Angela Kilcrease said she considers the week a success, noting that the delegates are coming away with a better understanding about how much their lives are impacted by the decisions of our elected officials. Like Smith, Kilcrease hopes many of the young women who participated will one day make a difference in public life.

“Democracy prevailed at Girls State,” Kilcrease said. “It’s been a great week, and these elections in the state of ‘Magnolia’ show how much the delegates learned about how the democratic process works,” she said.

For more information about American Legion Auxiliary Girls State, visit www.missala.com.