Students attend Girls' State 7.7.2010

Written by David Green.

Fayette: Thirty-nine new friends and a lot of new knowledge about how government functions.

That’s how Fayette High School junior Katie Knisely described her recent experience at Buckeye Girls’ State. The annual event took place June 13-19 at Ashland University.

Katie was appointed nurse for Lucy Hayes city, named in honor of the wife of President Rutherford Hayes, and she was elected to the city council.

Within the fictional city, Katie obtained a vendor’s license and opened a candy store. She was also named “most artistic” within her county for her efforts at decorating doors. As a council member, she helped create an array of rules and regulations to help the city function.

“It was really fun and I learned a lot about voting and the way that government is run,” she said. “The week went really fast, but you did learn a lot.”

The American Legion Auxiliary Buckeye Girls’ State program is designed to educate citizens in city, county and state government functions and operations. Delegates also learn the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Nine hundred girls participated in the week-long program.

Morenci: Three Morenci students attended the Legion Auxiliary’s Girls’ State last week at Michigan State University.

Elaina Pruzinski, Lesley Kazmierczak and Hayli Cox were chosen to represent Morenci. The cost of participation was paid by Rural Urban Insurance Agency, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce, Pennington Gas Company, General Broach and Morenci Legion Auxiliary Unit #368.

Elaina represented her city with the Girls’ State Press Association, writing stories about events for the daily newspaper, Politically Speaking. She was one of 12 delegates serving with the press corps.

“I’m really glad I got to go,” Elaina said. “It was a really good experience and a lot of fun.”

She said it was interesting to see how government functions and she enjoyed the interaction with other girls from around the state.

Once Lesley Kazmierczak was elected to city council, she thought she might want to go a step farther and she ran for mayor. She didn’t succeed there and she then tried for county medical examiner. In the end she remained a city councilor and that, she found out, was enough.

“It ended up being a huge job in itself,” she said.

The council took most of the week to work through various issues and decision-making. When Girls’ State wrapped up, her city’s budget stood with more than $1 million.

She enjoyed getting to know other delegates and she really liked the convention when her party members went over the planks of their platform.

But enough is enough; she really would have appreciated a little more free time.

Hayli Cox was elected to the county board, presiding over about 150 people, and later was elected to House of Representatives. That wasn’t the end; she was then chosen Speaker of the House.

Her familiarity with the way bills are written and moved through the house helped her advance, she said.

“I had to do a lot of teaching,” she said, to help other representatives understand the process.

The first couple of days brought a lot of hard work, but the girls were told that it would get better. That was good advice.

“After that,” Hayli said, “it just started to get fun.”

She sees the week as a good simulation of how government works and she recommends the experience to next year’s juniors.

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