campus wide alert

College News

76th Consecutive Session of Tar Heel Girls State to Be Held at Catawba College

June 12, 2015

Category: Events


logo-girlsstate.jpgJune 14-20 will be the 76th consecutive year of Tar Heel Girls State, and for the fourteenth year, Catawba College will host the weeklong session.

At the annual event, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of North Carolina, several hundred girls from across North Carolina, all high school juniors who are academically in the top third of their class, will participate. The Girls State program is a weeklong practical study of the structure and operation of North Carolina State Government. In a non-partisan atmosphere, participants take a "hands-on" approach to learning how state and local governments function. Citizens, as the participants are known, develop an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship by creating and living under their own mock government.

During the week, citizens are grouped into cities as they organize their own local government, elect officers, prepare a city charter and conduct city activities. Citizens also assume the role of a senator, representative or lobbyist to research and write bills and resolutions for the Girls State Legislature. Each citizen is also a member of a fictitious political party which will develop a party platform, engineer campaigns for party candidates and ultimately elect a slate of officers to govern Tar Heel Girls State. Parliamentary procedure is used to conduct all meetings.

Again this year, the session will be run by Auxiliary members from across the state who volunteer their time. Two of these Auxiliary members, Chair of the Commission Kaye Brown Hirst of Salisbury and Program Director Julie Cooper of Valdese, will be participating for their 28th year with the program. Other local individuals involved on staff include Mary Jane Thompson, house mother; Tina Brown of Rockwell, music director; Rena Ogle, city counselor and Karl Hales presenting a workshop.

"The citizens have a wonderful opportunity during the week to become involved and learn the rules of civic engagement," Hirst said. "These young women will be our leaders soon, and they will gain valuable experiences in leadership that will help shape and guide them as they become community, state and national leaders in the following years." Hirst will retire as Chair of the Tar Heel Girls State Commission this summer following this session. She has served the North Carolina American Legion Auxiliary for 28 years, chairing the program for 26 years.

The Honorable District Court Judge Beth Dixon of Rowan County will swear in the girls as Girls State citizens on the evening of Sunday, June 14. Judy Klusman will bring greetings from the Rowan County Commissioners and Maggie Blackwell will speak on behalf of the City of Salisbury at the Opening Ceremony. Guest speakers scheduled for the 2015 Tar Heel Girls State session, all of whom will speak in Keppel Auditorium of the Robertson College-Community Center, include Karen Burns from Davidson County Family Services; Anita Massey from the National Guard Headquarter in Raleigh with Recruiting Battalion; Janet Ward Black, an attorney and former Miss N.C.; and Kacie England, 2014 Tar Heel Girls State Governor.

While the Girls State Program is held in every state in the nation, North Carolina is the only state in the country to have had Girls State for 76 consecutive years, according to Commission Chair Kaye Hirst. The program is an Americanism project of the American Legion Auxiliary and an American Legion Auxiliary Unit approves all applications and nominates girls for the program.

Hirst reiterated that moving the program to Catawba College helped strengthened the nationally recognized program thanks in part to the strong support from the local community.

Local girls from Rowan and Cabarrus counties will be among the participants. From Rowan County, students are sponsored by American Legion Auxiliary Units in Salisbury, Faith, West Rowan and Landis. From Cabarrus County, students are sponsored by American Legion Auxiliary Units in Concord, Kannapolis, Harrisburg, and Mt. Pleasant. From Stanly County, they are sponsored by the unit in Albemarle.

Two delegates from Tar Heel Girls State will be selected to participate in Girls Nation. The names of these two individuals will be announced during closing ceremonies of Tar Heel Girls State.

Notable former Girls State participants include Ashley Moore and the late Bernice Lerner, both of Salisbury, who were from Rowan County and elected governors at Tar Heel Girls State; as well as national figures who participated in Girls State programs in other locations like television personality Jane Pauley, former Texas Governor Ann Richards, former Miss U.S.A. Terri Utley, and the First Female Wing Commander in the U.S. Air Force Academy, Captain Michelle Johnson.


TAR HEEL GIRLS STATE MEDIA CONTACTS

Kaye Brown Hirst, Chair:
(704) 647-1013 (cell)
(704) 633-5946 (office)

Julie Cooper, Program Director:
(828) 874-1422
(828) 443-5235

Beginning Sunday, June 14, Girls State Headquarters on Catawba College Campus:
(704) 637-4251

Tonia Black-Gold 
(704) 637-4393
Chief Communications Officer
Catawba College
Salisbury, NC