By Bill Spinks
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented Texas Bluebonnet Girls State from meeting in person in Austin this year, but Midlothian Heritage students Catherine Larson and Kenna Standridge were still recently able to participate in a week-long online event.
"I was soooooo psyched to go to Girls State in Austin, so when they made it a virtual experience, it was kind of a bummer," Kenna said. "However, it turned out to be an awesome experience, and I met so many amazing girls that I would have completely missed otherwise."
Catherine’s mom, Geri Larson, said it was extremely rare for two students from the same high school to be selected to participate in Girls State.
Catherine and Kenna have also been asked by Grace Wadsworth, president of the local American Legion Auxiliary of Midlothian, to participate in the Midlothian July 4 parade and attend a cookout.
Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary began an effort over five decades ago to devise a means to:
• educate our youth in the duties, privileges and responsibilities of American citizenship;
• give future citizens, in a realistic manner, an opportunity to learn the problems of government by performing the same duties as real office holders in the everyday world;
• inform them of the rights and privileges of American citizenship;
• instill a deep sense of the personal responsibilities and obligations which this citizenship entails.
"I was very glad that they moved it to an online program, as I had a very neat experience," Catherine said. "I never knew about all the ins and outs of state government, and I got to learn about how the government works on the city, county, and state level by not only reading up on it but by actually participating in it."
As a part of Girls State, Catherine was elected to be a city councilwoman for her city, City A, and got to help debate and decide various proposed laws for the city, such as lowering the speed limit or imposing an ordinance that the population needs to wear masks.
"This was probably my favorite part, debating and deciding laws for the city, as everyone had to be clever and think on their feet during the debate and rebuttal for our laws," Catherine said. "It was also very fun getting in touch with other leaders around our state in this session! If anyone likes to learn about government, likes problem solving, and likes to learn how to be clever and think in their feet during a debate, girls state is for them!"
Kenna said her favorite part was probably the talent show on the last day.
"I was asked to read some of my poetry aloud, and I surprised my counselors with a poem written specifically for and about Girls State," Kenna said. "There was no winner, so I can't say I won, but my counselors were speechless at the end."
Kenna’s poem reads as follows:
Who knows where the future leads?
Is it fields of green grasses?
Or built of granite, so tall?
Does it expect excellence?
Yet walking with faith.
But always believing.
We were born for this.
No man, woman, child
Meant to do the same thing twice.
Each a different direction
that converges to form
the world as we know it.
Forging a better tomorrow
out of the ashes of today.
Thank you, Girls State.
You set us aflame
to light up our world.