The Princeton American Legion Auxiliary Unit No. 98 has chosen two Colusa County high school juniors to attend the prestigious California Girls State conference June 25-30. Three others were named alternates.
Girls State is an exciting government-in-action learning program held each year on a college campus in which American Legion Auxiliary members guide young women to become knowledgeable stewards of freedom and democracy, and to become patriotic citizens, said Lori Dowden, Princeton Auxiliary secretary.
“This is the 75th year for Girls State,” Dowden said. “There were only two years during World War II when the conference was not held.”
The American Legion Auxiliary’s marquee Girls State program, first presented in 1937, is one of the most respected and coveted learning programs presented in the United States, Dowden said. Girls State is designed to build leadership skills, confidence, and a thorough understanding of the government process. The curriculum will include the girls assuming the roles of government leaders, and campaigning in mock parties to become local, county, and state officials of their Girls State.
Chloe Ferraivoll, 17, the daughter of Paula and Julius Ferraivoll of Colusa, was chosen as the Colusa High School delegate. She already serves as Associated Student Body vice president, is a member of a number of other clubs, and plays tennis.
“It is important to know how government works,” Ferraivoll said. “Just to be able to go down there and learn more would be a wonderful experience.”
The Auxiliary selected Fiorella Perez, 16, the daughter of Claudia Plasencia of Princeton, as the Princeton High School delegate.
Perez previously participated in Unit 98’s activities, such as the Poppy Poster Contest, and she helps with the Auxiliary’s backpack program, which provides homeless veterans with toiletries and other necessities.
“I want to go to Girls State because I think it will be a good opportunity to improve my social skills,” Perez said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning about them – how they live, how they grew up, and how their schools are, because I come from a school that has like 100 kids.”
Perez said she’s also looking forward to learning more about how the government works.
“It’s going to be fun, too,” she added.
Helena Harris and Jessica Hickel, both 16, were selected first and second alternate, respectively, for Colusa High School, and Machaira Moore, 16, of Willows was selected alternate for Princeton High School.
“All the candidates are such wonderful young ladies, which made it very hard to make the selection,” Dowden said. “I wish they could all go, but, unlike Boys State, which allows two delegates from each school, Girls State only allows one.”
Although alternates would only attend Girls State if the selected delegates were unable to attend, Dowden said they can and should use their candidacy on college and employment applications.
“We always encourage it,” she said. “It is still an honor to be selected as a candidate for Girls State.”
Because Princeton no longer has an American Legion Post and the Auxiliary has very limited fundraising opportunities, Dowden said the Unit must rely on sponsorships to pay the delegates’ program fees.
Princeton Community Eagles and the Princeton Volunteer Firefighters sponsor the Princeton delegate every year.
“We could not do this without them, and for that I have to give thanks,” she said.
This is the final year Colusa Unified School District will sponsor the Girls State program, and Dowden said she hopes to secure new sponsors next year so that a Colusa High School delegate can continue to attend.
The delegates are responsible to pay their transportation costs and incidental expenses.
About 16,000 girls are expected to attend Girls State programs nationwide this summer. ■