Archive for Monday, June 8, 2009

Girls State builds political background

325 high school seniors are learning about politics in the Sunflower Girls State program.

June 8, 2009


Young women attending Sunflower Girls State are in town for a week’s worth of government and politics activities. A group of assistant counselors retired the flag outside the Dole Institute of Politics on Kansas University’s West Campus on Sunday evening.

Young women attending Sunflower Girls State are in town for a week’s worth of government and politics activities. A group of assistant counselors retired the flag outside the Dole Institute of Politics on Kansas University’s West Campus on Sunday evening.

All this week, Kansas University will be the home for city, county and state governments run by 325 incoming high school seniors from all over the state.

The 70th Sunflower Girls State event gives Kansas girls the chance to petition and campaign for offices at three government levels and hold primary and general mock elections.

Girls State is an insider’s look at how governments of all sizes operate, and the program aims to influence the young women to build on the lessons they learn and potentially turn their experience into a career.

“I think if we get the girls at this age and they learn the process of government, then it makes them more active in their own communities,” said Anne Werner, the director for Sunflower Girls State.

Throughout the week, participants will also hear speakers on topics like political party organization, health issues and even crime scene investigations.

Girls State officials are hoping that girls will stay involved, especially as more women are taking the national stage in politics and government.

“We’re at that threshold now where we just have broken the glass ceiling and it’s a good time for them to learn about it so they can continue forging the way for us,” Werner said.

Two girls from Sunflower Girls State will be chosen to participate in the Girls Nation convention. Activities will wrap up on Friday after the girls visit the State Capitol and Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka.

The program is put on by the American Legion Auxiliary.


Danielle Brunin 8 years, 9 months ago

I say it every year, but Girls State was the worst week of my life, barring death and illness of loved ones. They were the snottiest, cattiest girls I've ever met in my life. Hopefully, I just went in a bad year...

truman1902 8 years, 9 months ago

As an alumni of the 1969 edition of BOYS State, the entire week was an eye opener as to the slow grind of state government in motion..As "elected" state senators, my committee brought forth and passed a bill de-criminalizing marijuana possession..Bob Dole was a featured speaker and literally silenced the rowdies with his life story..We then were marched up to the stage afterwards and shake hands with the future 1996 presidential nominee..At the time, the stay at KU (Now at K-State, argghhhhh!!) was instructive on several levels..There are varieties of personalities in every mass gathering..Might as well get used to the collection while young and learn from it!!

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 9 months ago

I've always heard that Boys State was much better than Girls State. Most of the guys that I've talked to really enjoyed it.

GSALUM 8 years, 9 months ago

I had to comment on this one. I went to Girls State around 1998. It was a horrible experience. It was supposed to be an honor (at my high school) to go. We had to get up at 5 am (and go to bed LATE), march around campus in dressy clothes, fight for positions in the "state," sing silly songs and chants, have no contact for a week with the outside world (including family), and my counselor was a TOTAL stick in the mud. I've heard it depends a lot on the counselor you are assigned to. I also think it should be run by a different group. The women managing it were straight out of the 1950s. Old school strictness.

I have also heard that Boys State in Manhattan is about 10 times better.

I can honestly say it is one of the main reasons I didn't go to KU after graduating high school. Just a bad experience. KU is a GREAT school, but Girls State is not helping it in any way.

Just my thoughts. I'm just trying to help out the next generation of Girls Staters. And, yes, many of the girls who attend are very "catty." Girls, don't waste a week of your summer break on it.

Emily Campbell 8 years, 9 months ago

Wow! I loved my time at Girls State. Sure it was different in regards to the rules we were required to follow, but none of them were unreasonable. We had to wear dress clothes every day... big deal. I'm doing that now with my job. I learned a lot about myself (yes that I do not care for girls most of the time) but I gained a lot of self confidence. Girls State is an awesome experience and reading these comments are the first I’ve heard/read on the negative side. It will be AMAZING for these young girls to not have the iPods, cell phones, and gain some responsibility not having mommy and daddy around--- I’m 21 not some old fuddy duddy just FYI.

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 9 months ago


Thank you! I went at the same time and it was a nightmare!!! We need to start a GS Survivor's support group. I'm glad it wasn't just me. I wonder if we were in the same group ;) At one point, I just burst into tears and begged to go home. One of the older women who was helping trying to comfort me said, "Honestly, I'm ready to get out of here too." Of course, how was I gonna get there? Hitchhike? You couldn't call anyone and they watched payphones like hawks. There was one girl who broke her wrist or ankle and they initially wouldn't let her call her parents. With cell phones and wider use of the internet, I bet things have changed a lot, but still, every time I see that sign in June, I cringe.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

ylime3499 I think you are right. The whole point is to introduce these young girls to politics which is considered work. To be of any value it must be taken seriously. This is a good age to start buying clothes that would work in a job setting. I don't understand the need for the girls to be totally isolated. I am interested in just why you don't like women, if that question is not too intrusive. If it is I apologise. I have never got along with most women which is why I am asking.

GSALUM 8 years, 9 months ago

Well, I am a teacher now, so I guess my career was not going to be in politics. Perhaps that is why I disliked Girls State.

I, too, do not understand the need for the girls to be completely isolated for the entire week.

As far as the dress clothes, I love to dress up. I also dress up for work each day. However, dressing up and marching in the heat and/or rain from the dorms to Lied Center is not quite the same experience as dressing up to go to work. There is little comparison there.

Furthermore, I believe Girls State could be a great learning experience. As an educator, I know that kids and teens learn the most when they are engaged and feel comfortable. There is little to feel comfortable about at Girls State. Also, it is tough to be engaged in something when you are sleep deprived. I'm glad some of you had a positive experience. I, however, did not. Perhaps things have changed since 1998.

Emily Campbell 8 years, 9 months ago

I just don't get along with most of them. I was raised to be independent and I find a lot of women to need someone or something to be happy etc. I also can't stand not being honest. In the way of saying, "Oh that purse is great" when in all truth it's horrible. I also don't understand the girly girl things like make up, but I do have three close girl friends. I can understand the isolation issue, but I do think there are so many negatives through those mediums (like glorifying being pregnant in some of the new TV shows geared towards young adults) that it may help them learn a little bit more about themselves or the human connection outside of the wired world. I do not remember not being able to use a phone if I needed to, and we didn't "march" we had to walk. Then again it was after 1998. I also felt more comfortable knowing that every other girl was dressing up (kind of like a dress code eh'?) But alas everyone is different and that's what makes the world go round!

km09 8 years, 9 months ago

I think times have drastically changed since you women were at Girls State. I was a Girls State Delegate in 2008 and an assistant Counselor this year, 2009. (I can be seen in the video and picture, just a little side note.) But I had the time of my life at Girls State, I'm not even interested in politics but it was still a great experience. I understand that some girls don't like to dress up, but its proven that girls act better or pay more attention when they are dressed up; rather than being in like gym shorts or sweat pants. Which we know some girls would wear given they were so tired. And about the time issue. Almost all the girls didn't wake up before 6:15 unless they themselves wanted to. There is so much to do at Girls State that there is not much time for extra things. I don't think any girls would want to stay at the campus for longer then the 6 days so they try to put so much into the time they do have. Also I now some complain about having to walk in "twos" around the campus but they have to understand we are not the only people on campus and others need access to the same sidewalk we are in. I understand that it's not fun walking everywhere but it would take an overwhelmingly large amount of time to transport over 325 people where they need to be at different times and making sure all the girls in the "city" stay together. I think your experience at Girls State is what you make it. If you run for an office and participate you will have fun. I ran for State Treasurer I won in the primaries but lost in the general and a I still had a blast. I then became the "support staff" for the senate which meant I still had the chance to participate. The KU campus is BEAUTIFUL and it's such a great place to have Girls State. Most of the girls in my city were not remotely interested in KU until they had a chance to live there for a week and now they are interested in touring. It's sad when I read comments such as these. Girls State IS an honor and I wish people would understand there is also a good side to it, it just depends on people's point of view.

GSALUM 8 years, 9 months ago

I think my comments are taken out of context here. I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that the girls wear sweat pants all week, that they take transportation to Lied Center, or that they be allowed to wander campus or dominate the sidewalks. It has been over 10 years since I attended. Perhaps it has changed--I hope so. Many things have changed in my life since I went to Girls State. I graduated high school and college. I got married and had a baby. I earned two graduate degrees and have held the same job since graduating from college. All these events happened, yet I still have negative feelings about my time at GS. It must have made quite an impression. Sorry to disappoint those who loved it. There are often two sides to a story...

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