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Ten local ladies attend Palmetto Girls State

A few Girls State delegates meet and posed with Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman, who was a guest speaker at one of the assemblies for Palmetto Girls State. Photo by PGS Staff.

By Olivia Phillips

Since I was a freshman, I always saw pictures of girls in white PGS shirts and skirts, and envied them for attending Girls State. When the second semester of my junior year rolled around, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to attend Palmetto Girls State (PGS). On Sunday, June 11th, 10 Walterboro ladies (students from Colleton Prep Academy and Colleton County High School) traveled to Presbyterian College along with 600 other girls from across the state to attend PGS.
The American Legion Auxiliary designed Palmetto Girls State in order to educate ladies that were rising seniors about patriotism, citizenship, and government. After arrival on Sunday, the delegates registered and were assigned to their halls or “city,” which is when the girls would say their goodbyes to their families until the following Saturday. Once registration ended, the PGS delegates, counselors, and staff dove straight into activities for the week.
Walking with “purpose” in their Girls State shirts and skirts, the ladies and their cities gathered for daily assemblies that would consist of singing songs, briefings, and listening to guest speakers. In addition, the girls would meet with their city and counselors every day to discuss activities. By the end of Sunday night, every city had created their city government and elected delegates to public offices including mayor and city council during their city meetings. By Monday, the girls would begin to fall into a routine of assemblies, meetings, and elections. During that day, the counties—which consist of three cities—would elect county members, chairs, and vice chairs and then go on to appoint House and Senate members for their county. By the end of June 13th, the political parties, the Nats, and Feds, had successfully elected a State chair and vice chair, which would help them during state elections. To take a break from the two days full of elections, the cities created and performed parodies of popular songs at the assembly on Tuesday night in a city competition. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, political parties convened to elect their party’s candidates in the primary elections and to send those candidates to the general election. As Thursday night came to a close, Girls State had officially elected their 71st Palmetto Girls State constitutional officers. Along with the new elects being announced, the cities also discovered who had won the county banner competition, which would determine the county that would have the best seats at the Columbia Statehouse on Friday.
Unlike the rest of the week, Friday did not consist of assemblies, meetings, or elections. Friday was a day of parading, chanting, and networking. On Friday, June 16th, Girls State traveled to downtown Columbia to meet Boys State. After marching on Gervais Street all the way up to the Statehouse steps, PGS and PBS participated in the inauguration of their constitutional officers. After the inauguration, Girls State were free to eat lunch, meet people from Boys State, and upon tradition, trade shirts with a Boys State delegate. After this, the Girls State delegates were loaded back onto buses to return to Presbyterian College for their nightly activities. When Saturday arrived, girls in every city were hugging and crying as they left to go their separate ways as the 71st Palmetto Girls State came to a close.
When I was a freshman, I didn’t understand the purpose of Palmetto Girls State; I just knew it was something I wanted to experience and I got to do just that during the week of June 11th. Along with the other Colleton representatives, I fell in love with and finally fully understood the function of Girls State and we, the Colleton representatives, highly appreciate PGS and our local ALA for making this opportunity possible for us.

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