Auxiliary enjoys surge in Girls State applicants
By KATHY REED
Whidbey News Times Whidbey Crosswinds
May 8, 2012 · Updated 1:33 PM
Members of the American Legion Auxiliary are hoping a surge in applications from young women to attend Evergreen Girls State is a reflection of a growing interest in how the government works.
The Auxiliary awards two scholarships to Girls State each year. In the past, the group has typically received two or three applications for the annual event.
This year they received eight applications, prompting members of the Auxiliary to hold a small reception to meet each applicant in person, hopefully making the selection process a little easier.
“We’ve had some lean years,” Julia Dietz, Legion Auxiliary president, said of the number of applications in the past. “We hope this is the start of a turnaround.”
Evergreen Girls State is a nationwide leadership program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. This year’s program will be held June 10 through June 16 at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Young women live together as self-governing citizens during this time. There are 14 cities, four counties and two mock political parties at Girls State.
Each girl is assigned to a city and to a political party. The parties are organized at the precinct level and continue through county and state conventions, where platforms are developed, candidates run for county and state office and general elections are held. After the election, officials carry out their duties.
“It’s an extremely busy time,” Dietz told the young women. “You get up early in the morning and you go until late in the evening.”
Seven out of the eight applicants were on hand for the reception, held April 25 at the American Legion Post in Oak Harbor. All the girls are in their junior year at Oak Harbor High School and all are interested in learning more about the workings of government.
“I thought this would really help me with understanding how the government works,” said Hannah Salmons, 16. “It will help me make a difference later on.”
“Our generation isn’t necessarily the next to be involved in the government, but the ideas expressed will eventually affect us,” said 17-year-old Ally McGuire. “I feel this experience will help a lot.”
Still others who applied have already set their sights on a political career and are looking forward to the experience offered by participating in Girls State.
“I hope to go into politics and hold a national office someday,” said Carlie Kenny, 16. “I really, really want to get involved.”
For those chosen, the Legion Auxiliary will pay the $265 attendance fee and $70 for the bus trip to Ellensburg and back. Participants must still pay a registration fee of $110.
Dietz said the Auxiliary is hoping to raise additional funds in order to send more girls.
Auxiliary members will make their choice by May 9.
Anyone with questions can contact Dietz at 675-4214.