campus wide alert

College News

77th Consecutive Session of Tar Heel Girls State to Be Held at Catawba College June 12-18

June 07, 2016

Category: Events

logo-girlsstate.jpgJune 12-18 will be the 77th consecutive year of American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Tar Heel Girls State, and for the fifteenth 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 ALA 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 Barbie Creech of Cary will be participating for her 18th year and Program Director Ashley Cox of Raleigh, who has been with the program for 23 years. Other local individuals involved on staff include Tina Brown of Rockwell, music director; Rena Ogle, city counselor; Susannah Dixon, Assistant City Counselor and Karl Hales presenting a workshop.

“ALA Tar Heel Girls State gives the citizens the opportunity to create their own governments for their cities and state. They create political parties and platforms, write bills and debate them in their legislative branches and elect officials.” Creech said. “The leadership skills they learn will allow these young ladies to become more involved in the civic opportunities offered them at all levels in the future”

The Honorable Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Anna Mills Wagoner of Rowan County will swear in the girls as Girls State citizens on the evening of Sunday, June 12. Greg Edds will bring greetings from the Rowan County Commissioners and Mayor Karen Alexander will speak on behalf of the City of Salisbury at the Opening Ceremony. Guest speakers scheduled for the 2016 Tar Heel Girls State session, all of whom will speak in Keppel Auditorium of the Robertson College-Community Center, include Secretary of State Elaine Marshall; State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson; Caroline Farmer, the Deputy Director of the Victims and Citizens Section of the NC Attorney General’s Office; Janet Ward Black, an attorney and former Miss N.C.; Erin Collins from Davidson County Family Services; Amy Broughton, an attorney and citizen of the 1993 ALA Granite Girls State (New Hampshire); and Kathleen Ballard, 2015 ALA 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 77 consecutive years, according to Commission Chair Barbie Creech. 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.

Creech 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 ALA 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 ALA 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 ALA 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.


Barbie Creech, Chair:
(919) 412-7561 (cell)

Ashley Cox, Program Director:
(919) 412-5569

For more information about American Legion Auxiliary Tar Heel Girls’ State, visit

Beginning Sunday, June 12, Girls State Headquarters on Catawba College Campus:  (704) 637-4166.