The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 136 is sponsoring two Mariner High School students to attend 2013 Girls State in Tallahassee, which kicks off next week.
Pine Island resident Gerilynn Rossman and Cape Coral resident Megan Tedlie met at the North Fort Myers American Legion Post 336 for their orientation on Saturday, May 18. Both students recently finished their junior year of high school.
Auxiliary member Sonny Koutsoutis said during the course of orientation the girls were given a thorough and comprehensive review of what to expect during their week in Tallahassee.
From left, Mariner High School student Megan Telie, American Legion Auxiliary Member Sonny Koutsoutis, Mariner student Gerilynn Rossman and American Legion Auxiliary Member Rubye Woodhead. The American Legion Auxiliary is sponsoring the two students for the 2013 Girls State in Tallahassee, which will take place from June 13-21.
"When I first signed up to be interviewed for Girls State, I didn't really know what it was going to be like," Tedlie said. "But, I did my research and I know that people like Bill Clinton and Neil Armstrong went when they were juniors, so did Jon Bon Jovi, and I hope that someday that will be me."
In addition, she said there are not many organizations that offer this type of program for students.
"I'm honored that I have the opportunity to participate," Tedlie said.
This year's Girls State will be held from June 13-21.
Koutsoutis said when the girls get off the bus in Tallahassee, they will be assigned to cities.
"All the cities on one floor of the dorm compromise a country," she said.
Koutsoutis said the girls will campaign, run for and elect officials for each city during the week stay at the capital. State officials and governors will also be elected. When the girls go to the State House, she said they are each required to bring a bill with them to be presented.
"Basically it's a mock government for the week that they are together," Koutsoutis said.
"What initially interested me about this opportunity was the chance to break down and really get inside the complex machine that is our government," Rossman said. "As a student of engineering, such machines are my passion, and I've always found that the best way to understand how something works is to take it apart and rebuild, as we will effectively be doing in creating our mock state during the course of the program."
She said she is really looking forward to getting an in-depth look at the inner workings of the capital and meeting new people along the way.
"Girls State will provide me with not only a great resume item, but valuable leadership experience and a strong knowledge of how the government works, allowing me to be a more aware and more politically active citizen," Rossman said. "I believe that it is also a good thing to know how the state and federal legal systems work in depth, knowledge which Girls' State will provide."
Tedlie said everything she has heard about Girls State convinces her that she is going to have an amazing time meeting all the other girls and visiting the capital building.
"I'm excited just to go through all the processes of government," she said. "I imagine that it will be really eye opening for me."
Tedlie said she knows how important it is to be aware of what government is and how it works.
"I really hope that this will give me insight to something that can be hard to understand," she said. "I also know that I'm going to have the opportunity to learn and refine skills like public speaking and debating that will help me in every day life. Girls State, it seems, is so much more than just writing a bill and going to Tallahassee for a week. It's really about becoming a person of character."
Although Tedlie has not fully decided what she wants to study once she graduates high school because of her many interests, she is considering history or criminology. She said she then wants to pursue a law degree, biology or forensic science degree and pursue a medical degree.
Rossman said she plans on studying engineering, so she can pursue a career in the biomedical branch.
"I want to be able to apply my problem solving skills in an environment that will allow me to help others," she said.
The American Legion Auxiliary has sponsored juniors for the Girls State program since 1991. It was originally established in 1937, to provide students with the chance to live together for one week as self-governing citizens, enjoying the governmental and political experiences of a democracy.