Elkins – Davis & Elkins College will welcome more than 300 female rising high school seniors selected to learn more about Americanism, citizenship and leadership as American Legion Auxiliary Rhododendron Girls State makes its move to the campus. The 76th session is set to take place Sunday, June 10 through Friday, June 15.
The relocation represents a milestone as Rhododendron Girls State has an early connection to Randolph County. The late Kathryn Bell McGee White, a native of Huttonsville and retired Elkins High School science teacher, was the first female governor of Rhododendron Girls State.
Established in 1941 under the sponsorship and direction of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of West Virginia, Rhododendron Girls State is a premier experiential hands-on program that focuses on citizenship and patriotism, and develops leadership and pride in American citizens, educates citizens about our system of government, instills a greater understanding of American traditions, and stimulates a desire to maintain our democratic government processes within our republic.
The students, who will become “citizens” of Girls State, will spend the week immersed in educational sessions focused on government and participate in party caucuses. The week also entails a platform for learning the election process first-hand with the formation of a mock government in which the citizens have opportunities to file for office, campaign, attend candidate speeches, vote and participate in an inauguration ceremony. Each day, they will hear from some of West Virginia’s top government officials including U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, State Treasurer John Perdue, Secretary of State Mac Warner and State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin will also participate in a Skype session.
In accordance with Girls State’s emphasis on veterans, several activities are planned to pay tribute to those who have served our country and to educate the citizens about the role of American Legion Auxiliary members. Former POW and Iraq War veteran Jessica Lynch will be honored in a special ceremony at the week’s conclusion.
Davis & Elkins College will also host a college fair for the citizens with representatives from 25 higher education institutions.
Candidates for citizens of Rhododendron Girls State are recommended by their high schools based on their interest in government, leadership, character and honesty, scholarship, cooperativeness, community participation, knowledge of parliamentary procedures and demonstration of above average scholastic achievement.
In addition to the citizens, Rhododendron Girls State brings nearly 50 volunteer counselors, party leaders, instructors, office crew members and country store workers.