2016 Girls State delegates attend orientation briefing

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More than 40 people attended the Girls State orientation briefing at Palmetto Bay’s American Legion Post 133 on Sunday, June 5.

The American Legion Women’s Auxiliary hosted the meeting to let this year’s delegates, alternates and their parents know what to expect during the annual trip to Tallahassee and the week’s visit to the State Capitol.

The Florida Girls State program is designed to instill an understanding of the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship and public service.

Each year 300 young women have a chance to learn about America’s democratic form of government through first-hand experience.

Shawn George, District 9 secretary and press advisor, addressed the group and went through the list of forms that needed to be completed, travel tips and ground rules.

“I was in Girls State in Michigan myself some years back,” George said. “Girls State is held in 50 states and in Panama, and the program is fully funded by the American Legion Auxiliary.”

The delegates will arrive at Post 133 very early in the morning of July 1 to board busses that will take them to Tallahassee on a nine-day trip.

There will be more than 35 staff members and six State Troopers accompanying the girls at all times, and they will stay in dormitories on the campus of Florida State University.

During the week, the girls will form their own city governments, run for office, write bills and attend actual State Capitol meetings to observe how things work.

The delegates chosen for the 2016 session are all juniors attending area high schools in Key West, Homestead, South Miami, Coral Gables, Miami and North Miami. The delegates and alternates are Graciela Da Cruz, Bridgette Ortiz, Mandesa Ambroise, Amberlyn Colina, Tracylee Culpepper, Jessica Zeledon, Samantha Golden, Alyssa Varas, Lilliam Drenth, Shantell Gonzalez and Sha’De Wiggins.

“This is going to be a very enlightening experience and IÕm super excited to go,” said Sha’De Wiggins, a student at Coral Reef Senior High School. “We’ll be getting a firsthand experience with the government and issues in our communities. I’m definitely interested in going into politics. IÕm studying law, so this is a ride I would like to take.”

Also attending Coral Reef Senior High School is Jessica Zeledon, who said she appreciates the opportunity, particularly since it will help her make an important decision.

“I’m really looking forward to the learning experience, especially since we’re going to the Capitol in Tallahassee,” Zeledon said. “I’m really excited to learn about government because that’s what I’m interested in for college, so this is basically like a government intensive for me to see if I really want to do this.”

Besides the activities in Tallahassee, the delegates will have a chance to compete for several scholarships that will help with college costs.

They will return on July 10

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