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Girls State Tea-an event hosted by the American Legion Auxiliary

Girls State Tea-a function of the American Legion Auxiliary held May 3 in Vista, California.
Girls State Tea-a function of the American Legion Auxiliary held May 3 in Vista, California.
Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Jon Bon Jovi, Nancy Redd, Michael Jordan-what do these people have in common? They are alumni of the Boys State and Girls State program. They attended a summer session where they and other boys and girls created a government as a group. Welcome to the American Legion Auxiliary's Girls State program and American Legion's Boys State program. Each gender had it's own session.

The program, started in 1937 by Hayes Kennedy, an instructor at Loyola University, has had many politicians and others of achievement (Jon Bon Jovi) attend these summer programs to learn how to create a government.

The American Legion Auxiliary, Department of California, District Twenty-Two hosted a Girls State tea for their girls recently. The event, held Saturday, May 3rd, 2014, at the Escondido, California Post and Unit 149, had approximately 120 attendees which includes 39 teen girls. Several other girls could not attend due to SAT testing.

The SAT testing absences reflect what these girl are all about - achievement. The attendees all went thru processes within their high schools that involved proving academic achievement, community involvement, and who were chosen by school officials just to even interview for a position to represent their school.

The attendees, all juniors in San Diego County high schools such as Santee, San Diego, La Mesa, Borrego Springs, and more, all competed for slots to attend this exercise in creating a model government.

The tea is an annual event for the Girls State program.

The agenda for the tea's program started out with a welcome by Donna L. Smith, District Girls State Chairman, a prayer, a pledge, guest speakers Ann M. Brown and Cassidy Mayeda followed by introduction of the Girls State delegates, a welcome from American Legion former commander Rod Van Orden, and closing remarks with a final prayer.

Lois Cornish, Chairman of the Chula Vista Unit #434, said " The participants come from totally different perspectives. They learn to speak out. When we interview them we look for someone who can speak out."

The 71st Session 2014 will be held June 23-28 at McKenna College in Claremont, California.