American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Post 331, St. Robert have selected 4 young ladies to represent their legion, ALA Post 331, in ALA Missouri Girls State (MGS) this year.
One of the delegates is from Laquey and three of the delegates are from Waynesville High.
The delegates are: Ashlee Kurfman- Laquey High, Zoie Francisco-Waynesville High, Randa Bland- Waynesville High, and Makkah Mujahid- Waynesville High.
Billie Jo Long- Laquey and Paiton Quinones-Waynesville have been selected as alternates.
Ellen Wheeler, Membership Chairman for American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Post 331 in St. Robert, told the Daily Guide “Girls State is a very coveted and prestigious program.”
One of the requirements for the delegates chosen for Missouri Girls State is completion of their junior year.
If any of chosen delegates do not complete their junior year for whatever reason, they are not eligible to attend Girls State and an alternate would fill the position.
Ashlee Kurfman - Laquey High
Kurfman is a member of FBLA,(future business leaders of America) Beta, and has participated in student council.
Kurfman plays basketball and soccer, and attended RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) leadership camp.
She has volunteered for the special olympics, college fair, school carnival, and elementary field day.
Kurfman wants to go to Girls State “ to help her with leadership skills, and also learn about government which she believes will give her an opportunity to make a difference and lead in a government position.”
Kurfman heard about Girls State from her guidance counselor and other girls who attended Girls State.
Zoie Francisco-Waynesville High
Francisco is president of the debate team, secretary of the philosophy club, and a member of the National Honor Society, (NHS) and MU Alpha Theta. She has volunteered at the Waynesville Animal Shelter, and was a district competitor with FBLA.
Francisco wants to attend Girls State because “ she wants to be part of a community that values and finds interest in the same thing she does’- being a progressive and active member of the community. She wants to be part of something that encourages girls like herself to participate in government policies and to learn how to be citizens who fully educated themselves on the laws that one day will affect the rest of the country.”
Francisco heard about Girls State from friends who attended last year.
Randa Bland - Waynesville High
Bland is student government secretary, and a member of DECA, NHS, and MU Alpha Theta. She is also part of the freshman mentor program and a varsity cheerleader.
Bland wants to attend Girls State because she “ believes these events will improve various life skills as well as her knowledge of certain aspects of government.
Bland heard about Girls State from previous Girls State delegates and her guidance counselor.
Makkah Mujahid - Waynesville High
Mujahid is a member of the NHS, student government, FBLA, varsity track and field and cross country, and is president of the Key Club.
Mujahid wants to attend Girls State because “ she believes it will be a great opportunity to meet new people to prepare her for when she goes to college, will take her out of her comfort zone and will give her the self confidence to share her ideas with her peers.”
Mujahid hopes to “ be able to expand her knowledge about her state and country.”
Mujahid heard about Girls State from her sister who attended in 2016 and several teachers.
Billie Jo Long- Laquey
Long is a member of FBLA, and the NHS. She plays varsity softball and varsity basketball and has volunteered at the special olympics.
While attending RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards ) leadership course she was the recipient of the Michael Beahon award for going above and beyond to help her peers.
Long wants to attend the Girls State program because “ she thinks it would further my leadership and team building skills and would also give her the opportunity to learn more about government and a better understanding of how our government works.”
Long heard about Girls State from her guidance counselor.
Paiton Quinones -Waynesville
Quinones is a SGM in ROTC Tiger Battalion and is commander of the drill team and color guard. She plays varsity golf, is part of the unarmed exhibition team, and has earned her leadership and superior cadet medal.
Quinones wants to attend Girls State “to better her leadership skills for her senior year and future to come.”
Quinones heard about Girls State from cadets who had previously attended.
The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Missouri Girls State is a week long program sponsored by the ALA that will take place at the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, June 24-30, for girls who have completed their junior year in high school.
“The purpose of ALA Girls State is to help girls develop leadership skills and confidence and an understanding of the government process that gives the girls a lasting foundation for personal and professional success.” Wheeler said.
ALA has been sending girls to Girls State for many years. The program teaches the girls about government, civics, and how to run a government.
During the week long program the girls form mock cities and elect officials to run the mock cities.
Wheeler said, “It (Girls State) helps them with their leadership skills and the future and gives the girls skills useful for whatever career they choose. These girls will also have the chance to represent the State of Missouri in ALA Girls Nation should they be chosen.”
The girls selected for Girls State heard about the program either by word of mouth or by somebody like a sibling, mentor or teacher that had previously attended Girls State .
According to Wheeler, “The girls selected had to have a desire to be a leader.”
The selection process started with recommendations from the high schools (Waynesville and Laquey) scholarship counselors.
Those recommended filled out an online application listing all their credentials, why they want to go to Girls State, their extracurricular activities and other pertinent information.
After reviewing the applications ALA interviewed the prospective Girls State delegates.
During the interview process an ALA panel asked the girls how they felt about their country, how they felt about the flag, how they felt about their government, why they want to attend and be part of Girls State, and what their future careers plans were. The girls were evaluated on their leadership abilities, interest in government, service to others, and academics.
Wheeler said,” All the girls did really well in the interviews. All the girls were very patriotic. They were awesome and they had great credentials. Some of them are involved in student government like the Rotary Club and Key Club, some have been mentors and some are involved in sports or ROTC.
One reason given for wanting to attend Girls State was to improve/better their leadership skills.
“These are the girls that have already been in leadership positions at their schools and desire to become a better leaders.” Wheeler commented.
Some of the girls plan to become lawyers or doctors. Some haven't decided yet.
Regardless of their future plans, the leadership and government skills learned at Girls State will be a lasting foundation for their success as future leaders in whatever path life’s journeys take them, both personally and professionally.