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American Legion Auxiliary Tar Heel Girls State at Catawba College June 10-16

June 6, 2018

Category: Events

logo-girlsstate.jpgJune 10-16 will be the 79th consecutive year of American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Tar Heel Girls State, and for the 17th 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 20th year and Program Director Ashley Cox of Raleigh, who has been with the program for 25 years. Other local individuals involved on staff include Catawba College President Brien Lewis and Catawba Professor Emeritus Dr. Karl Hales presenting workshops on parliamentary procedure; Tina Brown of Rockwell, music director; and Catawba College Vice President of Enrollment Elaine Holden presenting a workshop on Interviewing Skills for College Admissions.

“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 Superior Court Judge Rebecca W. Holt of Wake County will swear in the girls as Girls State citizens on the evening of Sunday, June 10. Greg Edds will bring greetings from the Rowan County Commissioners and Mayor Al Heggins will speak on behalf of the City of Salisbury at the Opening Ceremony. Guest speakers scheduled for the 2018 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; Attorney General Josh Stein; Janet Ward Black, an attorney and former Miss N.C.; US Army Major Diana Stumpf; and Brianna Hernandez of Wake Forest, NC, 2017 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 79 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 Taylor James, Ashley Moore and the late Bernice Lerner, all 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 10, Girls State Headquarters will be on Catawba College Campus.

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