By Woodrow Polston
The Vandalia Area Chamber of Commerce recently awarded Van-Far High School student, Vivian McFadden, a check to cover her tuition for Missouri Girl’s State 2022. Each year, teachers at the school choose a girl and a boy, to attend and participate in the annual event. This year, the week-long program will be held at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.
“I wasn’t very familiar with Girls State before I was approached with the offer to attend,” said Sylvia McFadden. “I was told that both Girls State and Boys State are taking place at the same place and time this year, which is a new concept I believe. I am honored to have been selected, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to take part in this experience,” she added.
Missouri Girls State delegates are girls who attend high school in Missouri and have just completed their junior year and have at least one semester of high school remaining. Candidates are evaluated on their leadership abilities, interest in government, service to others, and academics. Junior members of the American Legion Auxiliary are especially encouraged to apply for the opportunity to attend Missouri Girls State. Sylvia, a junior, has been active in school events, including recently having placed in a speech tournament.
“We went to our first speech tournament since the beginning of the pandemic, and we got second place overall,” said McFadden. “I was able to get third place in my event. It was my first time going to an in-person event. After having done them online, it was a nice change. Other activities that I have been involved with, include having recently painted an FFA mural at the high school with several other students,” she added.
Missouri Girls State was first established in 1940 as one of 11 Girls State programs in the nation. The first session was held at William Woods University, in Fulton, in the summer of 1940 under the direction of Lutie Long Smith. There were 213 citizens in attendance the first year and Juanita Curry was elected governor. Currently, Missouri Girls State has 760 citizens in seven counties and 21 cities.
Their website states: “Our cities and counties are named after famous or important people to the American Legion Auxiliary and the State of Missouri, or those individuals who have contributed in some way to the success of the Missouri Girls State program.
“We are extremely proud of Vivian’s efforts in school,” said her mother, Sylvia McFadden. “We look forward to celebrating her future accomplishments. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the Vandalia Area Chamber of Commerce for their sponsorship,” she added.
As there are more than 200 American Legion Auxiliary units throughout Missouri, and approximately 750 girls are chosen to attend Missouri Girls State, the selection methods vary based on logistics, circumstances and established local procedures. Some selected delegates are long-standing junior members of an Auxiliary Unit who meet the qualifications, while others are chosen by school personnel with names forwarded to local units. Other potential delegates names are forwarded by schools to local units who then interview the list and make the selection based on the interviews. Any girl interested should begin by contacting their school counselor.