Catawba College to Host the 65th Consecutive Session of Tar Heel Girls State
June 2, 2004
For the fourth consecutive year, Catawba College will host Tar Heel Girls State June 6-12. Approximately 265 girls from across the state, all high school juniors who are academically in the top third of their class, will attend the 65th annual, weeklong session, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of North Carolina.
For 61 years prior to its move to Catawba, Tar Heel Girls State had been held at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Top North Carolina government officials are among the distinguished leaders who will address those gathered for Girls State. Scheduled speakers include N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall at 10:00 a.m. Monday, June 7; Family Crisis Counseling Program Coordinator Cindy Stevenson at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 8; Attorney Janet Ward Black, a former Miss N.C., former assistant district attorney in Rowan County and former Tar Heel Girls State participant, at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 9; Superintendent of the North Piedmont Correctional Institution for Women Brenda Jarra at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 10; and Special Counsel in the N.C. Attorney General’s Office Caroline Farmer at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, June 10.
At 7:15 p.m. Thursday, June 10, Tar Heel Girls State invites the public to participate as it hosts its traditional Flag Ceremony on Holmes Plaza in front of the Hedrick Administration Building on campus.
Tar Heel Girls State is run by seven Auxiliary members from across N.C. who volunteer their time. Chair of the commission is Kaye Brown Hirst of Salisbury and program director is Julie Cooper of Valdese, and this is their 17th year of working with the program. Other local folks involved on staff are Dr. Karl Hales of Catawba College, Margaret Basinger of Rockwell, Jennifer Bernhardt, Joi Issac and Mary Jane Thompson of Salisbury.
The program is actually 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 government 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.
Although 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 64 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.
Notable former Girls State participants include Bernice Lerner and Ashley Moore, 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 broadcast journalist Jane Pauley, former Texas Governor Ann Richard, 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: 704-636-5445 (home)
Julie Cooper, Program Director: 828-874-6422
828-432-2822, ext. 202
Beginning Saturday, June 6, Girls State Headquarters on Catawba College Campus: