OFFICES HELD BY GPS DELEGATES
2010: Nisha Boyington, Volunteer Girls State senator
2011: Sarah Shaw, Volunteer Girls State governor
2012: Emma McCallie: Volunteer Girls State senator
2013: Emily You, Volunteer Girls State governor
Source: Girls Preparatory School, Volunteer Girls State
For the fourth consecutive year, a student from Girls Preparatory School has been elected to one of the two highest offices at American Legion Auxiliary Volunteer Girls State.
In less than a week’s time, Emily You rose from the ranks of 550 delegates at the state conference to become a party delegate, then chairwoman of her party and finally governor of Tennessee Girls State.
Previous GPS delegates who have won either governor or senator offices were Nisha Boyington, Sarah Shaw and Emma McCallie.
“It is somewhat unusual to have a concentration of delegates from the same school attain some of ALA Volunteer Girls State’s highest honors,” says Julia Wells, chairwoman of ALA Volunteer Girls State. “It reflects the quality of students selected and the community’s support of Girls State program.”
For Emily, the process “was very exhausting.”
“Elections were back-to-back days,” she says. “Our days started at 8 or 9 a.m. and would go to 11 p.m. If you were running for election, you had to stay up late writing speeches and getting your information together, so I would usually stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. writing my speeches.”
Volunteer Girls State is an annual conference held the last week of May, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. This year Girls State convened on the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville.
Female rising seniors are elected as delegates from each public and private school high school across the state to attend. Some schools might send one delegate, GPS sent five to the conference. Male high school students are elected to American Legion Volunteer Boys State.
The teenage girls were divided into two political parties (Nationalists and Federalists) and 14 cities. Two cities were paired to form a county and the seven counties form legislative districts.
The delegates form and run a mock government and participate in the voting process “in order to learn how to become more informed citizens and effect positive change in their own communities,” says Wells.
Emily, 16, daughter of Jae and Kay You, was junior class president at GPS, where she is coxen on the crew team, a Model United Nations delegate and member of Young Life.
After winning a position as Federalist party delegate, she ran against seven candidates to win chairwoman of her party. The next day she threw her hat in the governor’s race.
Emily said she ran on her party’s platform of more background checks for gun control and simplifying paperwork for teachers “allowing them to get back to the pure goal of teaching.”
Jenise Gordon was a Girls State delegate in 1989, returned as a counselor for several years and now is Girls State director of citizenship. She teaches honors biology and environmental science at GPS.
“Girls State governor is the ultimate executive of the state,” Gordon explains. “That is an amazing honor, although some people would argue being a Girls Nation senator is an even higher honor because just two are elected and sent from each state to Girls Nation in Washington, D.C. Emily was nominated for senator but did not win.”
While Emily says she enjoys debating and has a newfound interest in the electoral process, she wants to pursue a career in medicine. She’s already planning an ambitious double major in chemistry and international affairs when she attends college.
“My goal is to become a surgeon,” she says.
Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...