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Utah Representative Becky Edwards speaks to the young women of Girls State in the Shepherd Union building on Thursday, June 9. (Emily Crooks / The Signpost)

In a group of 28-30 high school girls who sat together in the Wildcat Theater, discussions centered on the formation of their own government from the ground up. These girls had a choice to be Delegates or Federalists and to participate in their own caucus when voting for their leaders.

This simulation took place last week on campus, as Weber State University was the host for the annual American Legion Auxiliary Girls State Conference.

Girls State is meant to teach girls about party politics, a two party system, voting and running for elections.

First Education Assistant Jenn Hinton said, “They can participate in mock trial while they’re here. They have a House of Representatives, a Senate and County Commission meetings.”

This event took place between June 6 and 11. Both Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and Governor Gary Herbert addressed the girls on the pros and cons of politics.

“There is something for every woman in this room to do and to accomplish,” Cox said to the girls during his speech. “You have a mission in this life to give back. Your generation understands that better than any other that you have the ability to change history.”

Participant Alexandria Cooley said, “I learned a lot about how the government works, from how country commission meetings are run to how parliamentary works. This helped me to gain new pride in our country.”

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Women at Girls State take notes during lectures by Utah Governement Representatives in the Shepherd Union building on Thursday, June 9. (Emily Crooks / The Signpost)

Cooley also said, “I was able to gain new confidence by running for office on both the city and county level, which will help me when public speaking or at job interviews.”

Any high school, whether it’s small or large, can send girls to gain this week long experience. Hinton said, “Every year we have the cream of the crop.”

Within the simulation, participants are taught about the challenges and the reason behind the politics. Hinton said, “Everyone of them will walk out of here realizing one vote does make a difference…our biggest thing is to love God and country, and to have a voice in their communities.”

“My favorite part was the flag retirement ceremony,” Cooley said, discussing what she learned when it came to learning more about her patriotism. “It was amazing to see a proper retirement, and to feel the sense of pride in the air. I loved that they mentioned that as the ashes float through the air, the stars [in the flag] are rejoining the stars in the sky.”

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