AMERICAN LEGION AUXILIARY NEWS
The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA), Department of New Mexico Girls State program board is pleased to announce the return of the ALA NM Girls State program for the 2021 summer session. For the safety of students and volunteers, the 2020 ALA NM Girls State session was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After much discussion by the ALANMGS Board and continuing concern for attendees during this uncertain time the 2021 American Legion Auxiliary New Mexico Girls State session will be held virtually from June 7 through June 11, 2021.
Sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary organization, the ALA Girls State program is hosted in all 50 states offering this learning opportunity to more than 25,000 diverse young women each year across the nation to learn about their state’s government structure. The ALA New Mexico Girls State program was first held in 1948 on the Highlands University campus in Las Vegas Young Women who attend the program learn through hands-on experience responsible citizenship, leadership and a love of country and community.
Attending from over 40 high schools, charter and home schools from around New Mexico participants (delegates) who attend the week-long non-partisan civic education program learn about the structure of the American government at a municipal, county and state level. Delegates to the program are divided into cities where they elect and appoint city officials, including a mayor and city council. These officials pass ordinances, create a city flag, seal, motto and song, and participate in council meetings. Cities are divided into two counties where students are assigned a party (Nationalist or Federalist) and party conventions are held with a platform created and candidates for office are elected. On a state level, a Governor and Lt. Governor, Attorney General and other officials are elected. State legislative sessions are held to debate and pass proposed legislation submitted by each delegate. In addition to government instruction, participants hear from guest speakers, participate in a talent show, community service projects, art cover contest, Mayors Conference, choir, and other activities.
Session Director, Alisha Jones, stated, “We had to completely cancel our 2020 session so we wanted to make sure that eligible students for the program wouldn’t miss out this year. Though our virtual program can’t be identical to our in-person program we have made every effort to ensure New Mexico’s young women have the opportunity to learn about government through an active hands-on experience. We have planned a full and educational session. Students will still run for office, present campaign speeches and vote. Delegates will meet with their cities via online sessions. They will be able to submit artwork, videos, etc. to our Talent Show Gallery. We will have guest speakers in large group sessions and will be able to debate legislation in small committees. We also have some fun activities planned with Trivia Game Shows, small group discussions and other activities. The 2021 American Legion Auxiliary New Mexico Girls State session will be like no other year and I look forward to getting to know and working with some amazing young women from across the state.”
Thanks to the ALA NM Girls State’s partnership with Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) where the in-person program is normally held, the 2021 virtual program participants who complete the session will be eligible to receive three college credits through ENMU. Students who attend may also apply for several scholarships including the $10,000 Samsung American Legion Scholarship. Eligibility to attend the virtual session is open to female students in the high school graduating classes of 2021 and 2022. Students must be available for the full week of the session, have access to a computer or mobile device and the internet, and register for the program ($20 registration fee).
ALA NM Girls State Board Chairman, Amber Fitzgerald, stated “During this time of increased community awareness, it’s more important than ever that our New Mexican young leaders get the opportunity to learn more about how government and legislation works so they can become active citizens. Our program allows them to explore different community topics, discuss their opinions and debate their ideas on legislation and improvements in their communities. Giving delegates the opportunity to learn how to responsibly be active citizens will lead to stronger, diverse community leadership in the future.”
American Legion Auxiliary New Mexico Girls State is now registering for session and hopes to host 100 young women virtually during their 2021 session. Registration is open until June 1. For more information, please go to ALANMGirlsState.org or contact Session Director Alisha Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.