Girls State kicks off with two locals

Published 10:06 pm Monday, June 8, 2009

Pike County has been represented well this week at Alabama Girls State on Troy University’s campus.

Around 325 girls are on campus for the event, and two of those girls are from Pike County.

Alex Graham, of Charles Henderson High School, and Rachel Kyzar, of Pike Liberal Arts School, were chosen by the local chapter of the American Legion Auxiliary to participate in a weeklong event where students learn about the importance of government and its inner workings.

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Both said they are excited to be a part of the event.

“I sent in an application and after I got chosen, I just thought it would be a great opportunity to come and lean a lot of new things and meet a lot of new girls,” Graham said.

“Like Alex (Graham), I just filled out an application. I sent it in through the school and got it to my counselor, and after she talked to me about it, I just thought it would be a really good experience,” Kyzar said.

For both of the girls, there are family ties connecting them to Girls State.

“My sister also attended and talked about how much she enjoyed it, and it just really made me want to go,” Kyzar said.

Graham’s connection came through the American Legion Auxiliary.

“I heard about it through the school, but my grandmother is a part of the Auxiliary here in Troy, and she had talked to me about it,” Graham said. “Since my other sisters weren’t able to attend, she really wanted me to go.”

Once the girls arrived at Girls State, they had to go through the process of forming the imaginary government that is the backbone of Girls State.

All of the participating girls are divided into cities and counties, with the divisions based on which floor of which dormitory the girls are living in for the week.

“We have to make our cities our own. We make slogans and themes and it helps to make it more fun and bring us closer,” Kyzar said.

Once the girls have a city, they must elect city officials.

“I got elected for city council, so I’m helping out with that,” Graham said.

But Girls State isn’t just about mock governments. The girls said they are learning real-life lessons.

Both agreed the speakers that have spoken at Girls State have been very insightful.

“It’s only been a few days, so we’ve only had a couple speakers, but they’ve been really good and hit base on important stuff,” Kyzar said. “There was a speech about Democrats and Republicans that was good because it showed that just because you’re a Republican, it doesn’t mean that you have to believe everything that Republicans do. You need to do your research and figure out how you feel about each subject independently.”

Graham said the lessons she has heard from the speakers would help her later in life.

“We’ve really talked about getting involved in politics. The first day we talked about really giving back to the community and what it’s all about,” Graham said. “I’m not old enough to vote yet, but when I am, I’ll be able to use what I’ve learned here.