JOHN DAY – Three Grant Union students took their political knowledge to a new level with a hands-on experience at this year’s Girls State Session.
Railey Namitz, Samantha Brock and Avery Lenz, seniors, attended Girls State June 14-20 at Willamette University in Salem.
The trio shared highlights from their trip at the American Legion and Auxiliary Ellis Tracy Unit 77 dinner held Nov. 9 with family and friends attending.
Girls State chairwoman Tammy Bremner said the girls had a positive and memorable time.
“They learned that their voice is important, and it’s OK to express their own opinions – that they could be passionate,” she said.
The girls were voted into political positions for city, county and state, learning and simulating how governmental and public systems work.
Namitz and Lenz served in the House of Representatives.
A girl in the group, from another school, wrote a bill which is, in reality, being considered by the Oregon House of Representatives.
Namitz said the girl advocated for regular scoliosis screenings for students, and the girl said if she’d been screened, it may have prevented her scoliosis from progressing.
All three Grant Union girls said their time at the session was a life-changing, eye-opening experience.
“It gives a sense of the issues going on,” Namitz said.
“And how heated the debates are in the House and Senate,” Lenz added.
Other highlights for Lenz included watching a mock trial of a girl “convicted” of murder, and the candlelight ceremony to honor veterans.
Brock, who was voted to the Senate, said she learned the importance of voting and being involved.
“It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had to expand my horizons,” she said.
Besides all the important knowledge gained from the event, the girls also enjoyed getting to know the other girls in their groups, and a dance for the Girls State and Boys State attendees – both sessions are held at Willamette.
Namitz said the week was “definitely a wonderful time.”
Auxiliary president Ruth Harris, representing the Lion’s Club, and Carl Lino were thanked for sponsoring the girls.
Lino sponsors Girls State each year in memory of his late wife, Sondra Lino, who was the Oregon Girls State Director from 2003-2011.