CHS senior attends Girls State

    Crookston High School senior Sarah Ryan recently attended Girls State at Bethel University June 9-15 and came back with better knowledge on how the government works, and was even elected a “county auditor.” Over seven days, Ryan told the Times that she met a lot of people, did a lot of things, and had “empowering” fun as well as having the opportunity to hear Minnesota Governor Tim Walz speak.

    Ryan said the 300-350 girls who attended Girls State were split within their dorms into “cities,” were given “campaign money” and then “ran for office” in special elections. First, it was city elections, then county and finally state elections. Ryan, herself, first ran for mayor but didn’t get enough votes. Then, she ran for county auditor after receiving $50 from three of her friends for campaigning and won.

    “During the elections for state positions, we were divided into blue and yellow teams (Nationalist and Federalist) for voting,” Ryan explained. “The campaigns were 25 minutes and they had lights, music and special entrances, which was really cool.”

    She said the teams had to vote twice to narrow the choices then they elected their own Girls State Governor and Lieutenant.

    On the Friday of Girls State, attendees went to the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul and participated in a mock trial. Ryan’s group’s case was about someone who had allegedly got caught smoking marijuana in a bathroom and Ryan was able to give the closing statement for the defense.

    Speaking of the Capitol, Ryan also participated in the Girls State Choir and sang “America, America” in the dome.

    “Girls State was a very, very good opportunity,” Ryan remarked. “It teaches you that you can speak your voice, experience government for yourself, and hear opinions.”

    “It was so exciting and everyone was so happy,” she later added. “I got to live in a dorm room, live on a campus, and experience college life, too.”

Girls State Speakers and Projects

    Over the course of the week, speakers included Judges Sara R. Grewing and Shawn M. Bartsch, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake, FBI Special Agent Brandy Kane, Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kenndall, Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah, and, as mentioned earlier, Governor Tim Walz. Girls State citizens also brought items for care packages that will go to Blue Star Mothers to send in monthly packages to troops overseas.

    According to the American Legion Auxiliary Minnesota Girls State Facebook page, “City, County, and State taxes were collected at American Legion Auxiliary Minnesota Girls State. A total of $524.26 was collected and will be donated to the American Legion Auxiliary Department President Jean Walker’s project.”