W.Va. Girls State teaches students about government

MORGANTOWN — Good citizens help to build good government and institutions, and more than 20 young women of the class of 2019 from several area schools have been learning  what it takes to build and preserve a strong democracy.

The students, who became the Rhododendron Girls State 2018 class, are selected for their merits and abilities by the American Legion Auxiliary, and they have just finished a week of training and exercises at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins.

On Saturday, they came together at longtime volunteer/coordinator Helen Lindsay’s home in Suncrest to share stories about the week and to talk about the future.

At various locations throughout the United States, about 20,000 young women participate in the national program each year.

“The American Legion Auxiliary provides outstanding training in how our government works,”  Lindsay said. “We are very grateful to the community organizations and businesses who make it possible for rising senior girls to attend each year.”

At Girls State, local, county and state government procedures are studied by the “citizens.” Two Morgantown seniors were voted “outstanding citizens” — Abigail Bowman, elected speaker of the house, and Maggie Oliverio, elected secretary of state. Bowman said that learning about procedure helped her and others in the class understand “how to get stuff done.”

“It’s really important for young high school girls to learn [political process] because it’s something that’s going to be in our society and our nation forever,” Oliverio said. “This whole week focused on empowering women, and learning about our veterans also, but mostly empowering women to make their voices heard and to take action.”

The youth citizenship program emphasizes that: “Whatever path the future holds, taking full advantage of the chance to develop leadership skills, confidence and poise will give young women a lasting foundation for success in their personal and professional lives.

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