ALLIANCE – Three seniors-to-be from Swanton and Evergreen high schools were among the nearly 900 girls participating in the 71st annual session of Buckeye Girls at the University of Mount Union June 11-17.
It is a fast-paced program of mock government at the state, county, and city levels. The main objective of Girls State is to train young women, who have completed their junior year in high school, in the duties, rights, and privileges of citizenship by providing the attendee the opportunity to actively participate in a democratic form of government.
Local delegates to Girls State were Mikayla Rochelle, Swanton High School; Olivia Williams, Swanton High School; and Addy Worline, Evergreen High School. The Swanton Post 479 American Legion Auxiliary sponsored the students.
As the girls arrived at Girls State, they were assigned to one of two political parties. The residence hall in which they live during the program is their designated county and the floor on which they live is their city. The students then filed petitions for candidacy for a variety of offices, from governor to city council, and participated in the election process. After elections and inaugurations, they put the government in action.
Rochelle was elected to the Senate and was voted in as President of the Senate. President of the Senate is one the top positions at Girls State. Rochelle said she was ecstatic to be elected to the position.
“Coming in to Buckeye Girls State, I felt like it was going to kind of be a personal test to kind of see if I could run a successful campaign as prep for hopefully running in the future,” she said. “Being elected President of the Senate renewed the past ambitions I had when I was a little girl about being in government. It was truly an amazing feeling.”
Rochelle said that the first couple days of the week included a lot of campaigning.
“I had to get my name out there, so I introduced myself to as many people as possible,” said Rochelle. “There is never really a moment when you are not campaigning, as potential voters are always watching.”
At the party’s County Caucus, Rochelle had to get an endorsement from around 100 girls to be put up for Senator. After a primary election, five girls from each political party were on the general election ballot for Senate in each county.
Of those 10, five were elected. There were three other counties that did the same, for a total of 20 members of the Senate.
Rochelle’s party, the Federalist Party, held majority, and the Nationalist Party was the minority.
“This opened up the door for President of the Senate for me,” she said. “In our first Senate session, all of the Federalist senators voted on President of the Senate. After giving 30-second speeches, the “Feds” voted on president. I believe I owe both wins to how hard I worked at campaigning from the get-go.”
As President of the Senate, Rochelle was the leader of the entire legislative branch. “I ran Senate Session while House Session ran next door, and I ran our joint sessions. In the Senate, we worked on writing and discussing bills,” she said.
Rochelle had to make sure bills were discussed in an orderly fashion and according to parliamentary procedure. “I had to make sure each senator’s voice was heard, while at the same time be sure we were not wasting too much time on certain bills.”
Her final duty for the week as Senate President was to preside over the final Joint Session, which was the Buckeye Girls State closing ceremony.
“It was so amazing to stand at that podium in front of over 800 of Ohio’s best young women,” said Rochelle. “I was so lucky to get to be amongst them all.”
Williams was elected chief of police for her county. Williams stated that she had a great time arresting people and giving out tickets.
Worline was elected county recorder for her county. She was also selected to be part of the Buckeye Girls State Choir, and played her guitar and sang for the special entertainment during the ceremonies thoughout the week.
Specials guests during the week at Girls State included Governor John Kasich, who was the keynote speaker.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010