Although the Frisco unit of the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) is only 3 years old, it is already sponsoring a full complement of delegates to the Texas Bluebonnet Girls State program this summer in Seguin.
Founded in 1937, the ALA Girls State program is a nationwide citizenship and education effort, designed to instill civic responsibility and patriotism into young leaders through active participation in mock government.
In all 50 states, the American Legion and ALA host a session each summer, to which distinguished high school juniors are invited. Participants must display high achievement in academics, extracurriculars, leadership and character. The American Legion’s program is called Boys State.
“Our ALA Unit was just chartered in 2015, and it has always been a priority to our members to see a strong Girls State program launched in Frisco. The Auxiliary is proud to be sending a student from every Frisco-area high school down to Seguin this year,” said Korrie Tighe-Ragsdale, Unit 178 president.
Frisco-area schools were invited to nominate and recommend outstanding juniors to apply for the program. Finalists were selected and interviewed, and the delegation was named in April.
Representing the Frisco area at Texas Girls State this June will be: Ria Bhasin, Liberty High School (Frisco), Joy Cheshire, Texas Academy of Math and Science (Denton), Tana Cross, Lone Star High School (Frisco), Jorie Fleming, Centennial High School (Frisco), Rebecca Green, Wakeland High School (Frisco), Amy Lamberson, Little Elm High School (Little Elm), Corynn McKinnie, Heritage High School (Frisco), Allison Robins, Independence High School (Frisco)
Sara Sadri, Frisco High School (Frisco), Augusta Walsh, Reedy High School (Frisco), Skylar White and Legacy Christian Academy (Frisco).
Also selected by the ALA Unit 178 Girls State Committee were three city-wide alternates: Kendall Finseth, Wakeland High School (Frisco), Ksheera Jalakam, Heritage High School (Frisco) and Sarah Tipoff, Centennial High School (Frisco).
Texas Bluebonnet Girls State takes place at Texas Lutheran University and hosts no more than 600 junior girls from across the state.
These individuals will create a mythical 51st state, by assembling into cities, counties, political parties and legislative bodies. Citizens learn how to vote, run for office, draft legislation, determine local ordinance, and participate actively in all three branches of government. The program is capped by a trip to the Texas Capitol to meet elected officials and legislate from the floor of the House and Senate chambers. Activities are non-political and non-partisan, and all issues raised for legislation and discussion are initiated by the student participants.
“At Girls State, young women ‘learn by doing. It is an exclusive and meaningful leadership experience, and for high school girls from Frisco to be fully represented has been long overdue,” said Tracy Gamble, ALA Unit 178 Girls State chairwoman.
First chartered in 2015, the Frisco ALA Unit 178 sponsored three Frisco delegates in 2016 but did not formalize its Girls State efforts for another year.
“Girls State citizens must be sponsored by the community, and it is only thanks to the generosity of local civic groups like Frisco Sunrise Rotary and Frisco Women’s League that we were able to send a girl from every local high school,” Gamble said.
The Auxiliary fundraises year-round for Girls State sponsorships, among other programs that support veterans and the community.
Texas Girls State will take place June 17-23. Upon completion of the program, delegates will return and visit community groups during their senior year to share their experience.