Four chosen for Boys, Girls State

Sara Gabriele/Staff Writer

Juniors Tori Hurst, Sophie Lilja, Austin Javellana and Sam Orvis have been selected to attend Girls and Boys State during a week in June along with approximately 300 other students from around the state.

Both programs are sponsored by the Iowa American Legion Auxiliary and are week-long programs where high school juniors study city, county and state government processes.

Students chosen for Girls State were first nominated by teachers and then selected based on an interview with sponsor Louise McGinnis, however, the participants for Boys State were determined solely by faculty recommendation.

“We look for people that are interested in government, which is key, but also kids that are involved in a lot of activities around the school and have displayed citizenship and leadership,” history and sociology teacher John Mullan said.

While at Girls and Boys State, students are divided into “cities” made of around 40 students in which they set up mock city, county and state governments and administer them according to the laws of Iowa. Elections are held almost every day, and those wishing to gain a position must give speeches, rally, debate and vote.

Senior Megan Pattee, who attended Girls State last summer, ran for platform committee and won the position of mayor, where she then had to conduct a city meeting and pass city laws, which, as she recalled, “could be either practical or ridiculous.”

Pattee, who originally didn’t plan to run for any positions, also ended up running for governor (the highest position) and although she didn’t win, made it into the top four candidates.

“It’s an amazing experience; I gave eight speeches that week, which is something I never would have though I would have done,” Pattee said. “It’s a great environment; everyone is so encouraging, and (it’s a great place) to lose your inhibitions and go way outside your comfort zone.”

Javellana, who is currently the treasurer for student forum, plans to run for governor while at Boys State — gaining a position he hopes will give him an experience he can apply next year when he runs for student body president.

“I think it will give me insight into how to lead meetings and do a better job, and will be an opportunity to see other ways to do things,” Javellana said.

Hurst also plans to run for positions during her week at Girls State.

“It’s a really good opportunity — (especially for) leadership experience. I intend on running for governor, which would be a huge honor, and it seems like fun.”

Also throughout the week the students get a chance to hear from several notable guest speakers along with local and state government officials.

“The speakers are phenomenal,” Pattee said. “We heard from a U.S. diplomat that was held captive, and her story was so incredible.”

However, as past students recall, one of the best parts of the week lay outside the structured activities.

“I met a lot of cool guys,” said senior Brian Harris, who attend Boys State last summer. “The first day of Boys State we were all a bunch of strangers to each other, but throughout the week we became a really tight group of friends, kind of like a pact.”

Boys State will be held at the Iowa National Guard Camp Dodge on June 13-18 and Girls State at Iowa State University from June 20-25.

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