TUCSON — It was a girl’s week with nearly 300 high school girls from across Arizona converging on the University of Arizona campus for the 72nd session of the American Legion Auxiliary premier program, American Legion Auxiliary Arizona Girls State.

This unique opportunity is open to girls completing their junior year of high school who meet the necessary qualifications. The session ran from June 2 through 8, 2019.

Attending from Willcox High School was Ashley Riggs.

American Legion Auxiliary Arizona Girls State is a weeklong program designed to educate young women in the functions of their government and kindle the desire to actively participate in and responsibly fulfill their role as citizens.

According to Penny Maklary, Girls State director, “This is a week that shapes a lifetime.” She explained that girls were housed in an original home to Girls State for many years. State-of-the-art, eco-friendly instructional classrooms throughout the university were assigned to the program this year.

“Similar to past years,” she said, “we have senior staff that work as city and county advisers, while junior counselors return from the previous year’s Girls State session to assist senior staff in the education (and fun) process.”

Arizona Girls State is comprised of 12 cities and four counties. There are 22 to 24 girls in each city and about 75 girls in each county. The girls are divided into two pseudo-political parties called federalists and nationalists.

Precinct committeemen watched over all elections and assisted political parties. Each city elected a mayor and counsel; wrote their own ordinances and resolutions, passed a budget and a strategy for planning and zoning. Cities were assigned to a county, and the educational process continued with campaigning and election to county and state positions.

During the span of the week, participants conducted regular city and party meetings, wrote and debated bills, received instruction from actual elected state/county officials and “learned by doing.” Midweek, they elected the prominent positions of governor and secretary of state. The girls elected to these two positions will return to preside over the 73rd session of Arizona Girls State.

Culminating the week was the election of two delegates as senators to attend the prestigious Girls Nation held the following month in Washington, D.C. Girls Nation is an all-expense-paid week with other girls elected state senators from across the nation. They will debate federal issues they present as bills, visit the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the White House and other memorials in the nation’s Capital.

For more information on Girls State or the American Legion Auxiliary contact the Auxiliary Unit located in Safford or the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Arizona at 602-241-1080.

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