Maiah Brown, Hailey Hupke, Savanna Osowski, and Savannah Stengel were chosen as 2021 delegates to South Dakota Girls State. Brown and Hupke are sponsored by the Milbank American Legion Auxiliary. Osowski and Stengel are sponsored by the Stockholm-Strandburg American Legion Auxiliary.
This year marks the 75th session of South Dakota’s Girls State program. The girls travel to Vermillion to attend the session at the University of South Dakota from May 31 to June 5.
According to the ALA’s website, the program’s roots go back to the depression-ridden days of the early 1930s. “The American Legion grew concerned over public statements to the effect that democracy was ‘on the skids’. They wondered, how America could train its young people in the processes of self government as effectively as Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany seemed to be training their youth in totalitarian forms of government.”
The Legionnaires decided the best way to learn was to practice. In 1935, they started a citizenship training program to help young representatives from across the state understand and experience the processes of city, county and state Government. They called it Boys State. The program flourished and Girls State was authorized in 1937-1938.
South Dakota’s Girls State program was founded in Mitchell in 1947. In the first session, 117 girls participated; today over 400 girls are involved each year.
Photo: Maiah Brown, Hailey Hupke, Savanna Osowski, Savannah Stengel