(From left) Lauren Porter, Kristin, DeLeeuw, McKenzie Stoker, Darienne DeBrule and Elizabeth Beeli pose for a photo after the American Legion Auxiliary’s 2017 Girls State, held June 5-10 at Weber State University. The girls were voted attorney general, governor, girls nation senators and lieutenant governor, respectively. Photo by Curt DeLeeuw

Manti High School junior voted governor at Girls State

Clara Hatcher

Staff writer

7/6/2017

 

OGDEN—A Manti High School student was voted governor at the 2017 American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State, held June 5-10 at Weber State University.

Kristin DeLeeuw, a prospective senior at Manti, said the program helped her gain confidence, learn about politics and figure out what she wanted to do for a future career.

“I want to be a military psychologist for the Air Force,” DeLeeuw said. “Girls state made me have a new level of confidence and assurance. It showed me that I shouldn’t be scared to go after whatever I wanted to do in this life.”

Girls State provides an opportunity for junior-aged girls to experience a government-in-action program based on learning about politics, gaining confidence and creating bonds with other participants. Junior girls are selected after application and interview to attend the weeklong conference in their respective state.

DeLeeuw is one of four girls voted into positions that will return to next year’s program. Lauren Porter will return as Attorney General while McKenzie Stoker and Darienne DeBrule will return as Girls Nation Senators.

“I am so excited,” DeLeeuw said. “I’ve already started writing a speech for next year. In my first speech, I talked about how I hadn’t done anything like that [Governor] before and, even though I was scared, I wanted to try, so I could be the voice for all of the wonderful women I met.”

After being divided into “cities,” “Federalist” and “Nationalist” parties, students participate in a mock system where they assume the roles of government officials. They have the opportunity to attend caucus meetings, elect mayors, auditors, city councilwomen and even participate in a mock senate, where they can write and debate bills.

This is the 70th year Girls State has run in Utah. Kari Hofheins, the Utah Girls State director, said that it has also been their largest year regarding attendance, with 360 girls overall. In comparison, 330 girls were in attendance for the 68th year and 342 for the 69th.

“Girls State is important because it builds Americanism and patriotism,” Hofheins said. “These girls get a hands-on experience. It is an amazing program.”

Hofheins said her theme for the girls this year was about the “power in you.”

While the program is meant to help girls get empowered and gain confidence, Leslie Roberts said when she took part in Girls State, she could not get past her shy tendencies. Now, Roberts is a counselor with the program and encourages girls to have a different experience from what she had.

 

“I didn’t totally get involved when I went to my city,” Roberts said about her time in Girls State. “I made a few friends, not as many as some of my other friends did, but it still changed my life and helped me realize how important our country is.”

Roberts has been a math teacher at Central Utah Academy for almost two years. Previously, she taught at Manti. After her daughter attended Girls State more than seven years ago, Roberts looked into volunteering as a counselor.

“For me, the main reason I do this and go ever year is because you see these girls transform to absolutely loving the girls they’re with and become so confident and secure in the way they are,” Roberts said. “To see that change in just a week is amazing to me.”