Teens represent Pike County at Girls State

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Written by Kelsey Vickers, intern with The Messenger

Last week, three young ladies represented Pike County at the 2013 American Legion Auxiliary Alabama Girls State at The University of Alabama.

MacKenzi Johnson of Pike Liberal Arts School, Ebony Jones of New Life Christian Academy, and Kaylie Stanton of Pike County High School, were selected from the Pike County area this year.

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Johnson is the daughter of Mike Johnson and Stacey Dean and the granddaughter of Larry and Kay Penn and Verlon Johnson. She has participated in several activities at PLAS, including varsity volleyball, senior high Beta Club, and the National Honor Society.

“The experience was amazing,” Johnson shared. “I would honestly say it was a life changing experience. I got to make new friends and learned things that will benefit me throughout the rest of my life.”

She said one of the most important things she learned at Girls State was to take every opportunity presented and take advantage of life and live it to the fullest.

Johnson said she enjoyed meeting new people, networking, and learning to get out of her comfort zone.

“Running for an office was a great experience because I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t count on friends to help me campaign, so I had to reach out and make new friends,” she said. “And I don’t like public speaking, so it helped having to do speeches for it.”

Johnson is also involved with the Troy University accelerated online study program, the Fellowship of Christian Students, and she serves as a Junior Ambassador of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce.

Jones, the delegate chosen from NLCA, is the daughter of Linda Jones and the granddaughter of the late Yela Mae and Charlie Jr. Fenn. At school and in her community, she participates in the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club, the 4-H Club, and the National Honor Society.

Jones said the experience was “awesome” for her.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “When I got there, I didn’t know what to expect, but I got to meet new people and have fun. I really enjoyed my time there.”

Jones said the most important thing she learned was about public speaking.

“I learned to be really prepared when you have to give a speech, and if you’re nervous about it, picture the audience as something funny or try looking in between their eyes instead of directly into them if it makes you nervous,” she said.

Jones said she also liked the campaigning aspect of Girls State.

“It was really cool to see what it was like and to get to vote,” she said.

Stanton, the representative from PCHS, is the daughter of Sandy Stanton. She is a member of the Pike County High School Choir, a Junior Ambassador for the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, and participates in the Apollo Theater Club, among several other activities.

“It was quite an enjoyable experience,” she shared. “I got to meet a lot of new people and listened to some inspirational speakers.”

Stanton said one of her favorite parts of the experience was participating in debates and discussing bills to be passed, as well as getting to run for various offices.

“Overall, it was a really great experience,” she said.

For one week, the girls became a citizen of an imaginary state, taking part in the political life of her community, primarily through campaigning for and electing city, county, and state offices.

The young women learned the operation of government by participating in party caucuses and through the election process. Well-known speakers and other state, county and city officials visited and enlightened the young women on their civic responsibilities.