• 54°

Girls State boasts 328 juniors

The legislative session may be winding down in Montgomery, but for the participants at Girls State the fun is just beginning.

About 328 high school juniors are gathered at Troy State University this week to experience first hand how city, county and state government works.

Monday the girls met in their first House and Senate sessions, elected officers and met in committees to discuss bills.

"This has been the best experience I've ever had," said Mary Alice Pass of Cullman.

"I had no idea what to expect, but this is awesome."

She and three other girls met yesterday to discuss a bill for earmarking education funds.

"The caliber of girls that are here is great," Pass said.

"I haven't had a lot of government experience but I'm really learning a lot of new things."

The girls are divided into 16 cities and two political parties: the Nationalists and the Federalists.

On Sunday, each city met to elect city officials and appoint offices.

Last night, Mayor Jimmy Lunsford made a special appearance at the city inauguration ceremony to swear in the newly elected officials.

Judge Jean Brown, Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court gave the inaugural address.

The state elections won't begin until Wednesday, with a primary election in the morning and whistle stop campaigns and campaign speeches that afternoon. On Thursday, girls will vote in the general election.

Campaigns for the state offices began Sunday and girls are already sporting stickers and rubberband bracelets with slogans and names.

One poster hanging in the Adams Center says "Things will be sweet with Candy as Lt. Governor."

Besides serving as an elected official, the girls also have the opportunity to be on the newspaper staff, serve on party committees, attend caucus meetings and even sing in the choir.

With all the meetings, legislative sessions and campaigning, the girls have a lot to do.

They report for devotional at 7:20 a.m. and don't crawl into bed until 10:30 or 11 p.m.

On Friday, the girls will head to Montgomery for a tour of the capitol grounds and a visit from Gov. Bob Riley.

John Schmidt, Vice Chancellor for Student Services, said he is pleased that TSU is hosting Girls State.

"I am excited to have these ladies on campus," he said.

"They bring such a vibrancy with them."