Four hundred girls from all over New Jersey assembled at Georgian Court University on June 25, 2010; six of them were East students.
Incoming seniors, Tezita Watts, Jheri Grossman, Shannon Haar, Taylor Festa, Sandra Goldlust, and Emily Knecht were selected during their junior year to attend Girls’ state, a leadership program that offers education in the U.S. government and politics.
According to Grossman (’11), the conference teaches girls about the U.S. government on a state level. The girls learn about positions such as the mayor, councilwoman, and sheriff.
Haar (’11) said that many people gave speeches at the conference, and discussed issues such as driving laws and recovering from trauma. “We had a lot of guest speakers, like women police officers.”
As for the program’s admission, not just any girls were selected. Watts (’11) said that the girls were selected for their academic achievements and participation in extracurricular activities.
However, more than six girls at East were initially chosen. According to Haar, teachers first recommended potential candidates. These girls then submitted applications. The Women’s Legion Auxiliary, a significant sponsor in the program, then interviewed the girls whose applications were accepted.
Once accepted, the girls stayed at the Georgian Court University, located in Lakewood, New Jersey, from June 21 to the 25.
Watts said, “You go to the University and spend a whole week staying overnight, like you were in college.”
At the program, not only did the girls listen to guest speakers and learn about the government, but they also created a mock government. The group split into two political parties, the Federalists and the Nationalists. The girls were also divided into four counties, each of which had two cities per county. Within their counties and cities, girls campaigned for city positions, such as councilwoman or sergeant at arms. In addition, there were also fun positions like the Town Lady Gaga, Town Superhero, and Town Ninja.
Grossman said, “As long as you got involved, it was fun. I became a mayor, and I was in charge of my city.”
The city elections then led to the largest election at the end for the position of the Governor of New Jersey.
“It benefits us for the future because we would be able to help our country, grow as women, and enter the workforce,” said Haar.