The citizens of 2016 Cornhusker Girls State are almost there. One more day stands between them, their graduation and the end of their week together. Friday was a day of celebrations. Citizens celebrated new friendships, new knowledge, and new opportunities. The day began with the introduction of Girls Nation finalists, who were voted upon by the state and left to undergo a strict interview process with the CGS Advisory Board and Directors.
In the meantime, they were privileged to have Senior Counselor from floor three Kathy Mazur speak about her mother in honor of the 75th anniversary of Cornhusker Girls State. Mazur’s mother was a delegate to the very first CGS in 1939. This is the 75th year because due to World War II, Girls State wasn’t feasible and didn’t happen in 1944 and 1945. Even in year one, delegates were sorted into the Federalist and Nationalist parties just as they are now, although they wore scarves instead of lanyards to denote them. The week was held at Camp Kiwanis and included activities like canoeing.
The other speaker in the morning session was Sarah Pogue. She was a past CGS delegate and junior counselor who couldn’t seem to stay away for another year. Pogue discussed with the citizens her experiences at Girls State along with her current internship. She is an intern to the first lady of Nebraska and is in charge of planning for the Nebraska 150 celebration. Following the morning speakers, citizens were able to watch a mock trial performed by the District Courts before they broke for lunch.
For the afternoon session, citizens returned for the final session in the Nebraska Union, but this time they arrived in casual dress thanks to the generosity of the staff! The afternoon was packed full of presentations and prizes. Delegates heard from Education Director Virginia Nelson about the American Legion Auxiliary Oratorical Contest, witnessed the folding of the American flag by military personnel and listened to officer reports. All state elective officers and public service commissioners spoke about their experiences touring the real offices yesterday, and each mayor gave a State of the City Address. A slew of awards were presented as well, including the city profile achievement award, which went to the city of Hayes. Citizens who did excellently in the government or current events quiz were also honored.
The final prize of the session was what everyone was waiting on: the announcement of the Girls Nation delegates and alternates. Drumroll please… The final four citizens were Caitlin Mann, Ronni Miller, Emma Redinger and Natalie Schieuer, in no particular order. The two who were chosen to represent the state of Nebraska and the two who are alternates will be announced at graduation tomorrow. Once the presentations and prizes concluded, it was time for some special entertainment: a skit written by the senior counselors. They joked about struggles of the week such as navigating the cafeteria, putting phones away and attempting to teach the older counselors snapchat. The skit brought everyone to their feet with a dance party that left all citizens and staff laughing and showcasing their best moves.
The final session of Cornhusker Girls and Boys State occurred Friday night with motivational speaker Scott Backovich. This was his first year at Boys State since he attended in California as a teenager. Backovich approached the evening with a balance of humor and solemnity while he discussed how, as the top leaders in Nebraska, their experiences this week didn’t matter unless they went home, became catalysts and gave what they had to help others. The session closed with a serenade by the Boys State counselors followed by videos from both programs documenting the week. The Boys State video ended with an interesting bit of news… or so they thought. It revealed that in honor of their hard work they would reinstate the Boys and Girls State dance, although it turned out to be a prank. The citizens were rewarded, however, with a mingle session between programs in front of Memorial Stadium!
Today contained endless smiles from delegates and staff alike. Throughout the day they were able to reflect on the new information, experiences and friends they gained this week. Though tomorrow will bring tired eyes and sentimental see-you-later’s, the citizens have confirmed that this was an unforgettable week. In honor of the soon-to-be graduates of Cornhusker Girls State 2016, thank you to the American Legion Auxiliary for sponsoring this enriching program!
The Gubernatorial Debate was held at 8:00 p.m. at the green space outside of Sandoz. The candidate representing the Nationalists was Taylor Schendt and representing the Federalists was Emma Redinger. The candidates were each given a chance to answer numerous questions with their honest opinion.
The first question proposed was, “How do you feel about getting paid more for overtime?” Schendt’s response was, “Overall, I feel that if you’re working more you should get paid more.” Redinger’s belief is that if someone is working overtime, they should receive the pay for it. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that small businesses have set hours and may not be able to afford to pay overtime.
The second question enquired was, “How do you feel about standardized testing?” Redinger’s reply was, “I believe that we should back away from standardized testing. I think we should do this because it adds to the amount of stress the students go through. I also believe that standardized testing should not determine the amount of success or funding a school has.” Schendt’s comeback was, “I do not agree with the fact that the amount of funding a school receives is based upon their standardized test scores. I believe it should be based upon the population of the school.”
One of the final questions presented to the candidates was, “What would you consider doing about the towns that don’t have hospitals nearby?” Schendt’s belief is that there should be a trained specialist in or at least 15 minutes away from each town. She also believes that the state should offer special training classes to give the opportunity of learning to help in these situations. Redinger’s answer was, “I think we should have a trained specialist with the patient up until arrival to the hospital.”
Several excellent questions were asked at the Gubernatorial Debate. A few other topics discussed were strengths that made them strong candidates for the position of governor and their feelings towards the new license plate. Emma Redinger and Taylor Schendt did a fantastic job responding to the questions given to them. They kept it very professional and gave each other equal competition to work with.
The citizens of Cornhusker Girls State did it. They finally made it to Friday. Through a gas-leak evacuation to doing pull-ups at the Nebraska National Guard, these delegates have seen it all and are more than prepared to graduate tomorrow morning. When they arrived on Sunday afternoon, the delegates had little to no idea what an impact this week would have on them. Tomorrow they will walk across the stage and grab the diploma beaming with the pride and confidence Girls State gave them.
Friday morning kicked off with session at the Nebraska Union where the 11 Girls Nation Candidates were announced and sent off to be interviewed. The remaining girls stayed to run through the Girls State songs and watch the mock trial performed by the District Court with the help of Attorney Jennifer Tomka from Boucher Law Firm.
After lunch the citizens headed back to the union for a fun-filled afternoon session. Kelsey Thomas, Abby Nguyen, Kamryn Sannicks and Allissa Flynn were announced as the top four candidates for Girls Nation. Tomorrow at graduation they will find out which two will be alternates and which two will be representing Nebraska in Washington D.C. at the end of July. Session continued with all state offices and city mayors reporting on their week and what offices they visited yesterday after touring the state capitol.
The excitement went up another notch when the senior counselors from each floor performed a skit for the Girls State citizens. The counselors highlighted moments from the week in a comedic manner and even made fun of particular citizen behaviors. The skit ended with a large dance party in the Union Ballroom, allowing the girls to let loose and celebrate their achievements.
Although the citizens are looking forward to graduation, they were a bit torn up by the fact that their last joint session with Cornhusker Boys State was this evening. The citizens came together to watch the energetic JoAnn Owen Nausler speak on the meaning of success and to share their slideshow presentations of photos and videos from the week. At the conclusion of the Boys State slideshow, it was announced that the citizens of Boys and Girls State would be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of CBS by having a dance in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Colosseum. The citizens cheered so loud it was a miracle the glass windows were not shattered at Kimball Hall. However, the video came back with a large, “just kidding.” There was no dance. Instead the citizens of Boys and Girls State ended their evening with a mingling session outside of Kimball Hall.
Tomorrow morning the citizens will say goodbye to their counselors, roommates and friends. However, they will never say goodbye to the memories they made during the week. Congratulations Cornhusker Girls State Class of 2015!
The citizens of Cornhusker Girls State awoke to rain falling outside their windows, but there was nothing but sunshine provided by the citizens inside Mari Sandoz Hall.
The delegates spent their morning voting for Girls Nation senators joint session. Friday morning the Girls Nation finalists will be announced and the finalists will be interviewed. After the interview and some heavy consideration the two Girls Nation senators will be announced Saturday at graduation.
After voting the citizens took a soggy walk to Kimball Hall for the second to last joint session with Cornhusker Boys State. Citizens met early in the day for a debate between the chairs of the Nebraska Democratic and Republican parties. J.L. Spray and Vince Powers introduced themselves, said their opening statements and then let the Girls and Boys State citizens ask questions. The respective media groups formulated the questions for the debate; focusing on Nebraska issues like gay marriage, the TransCanada pipeline and the transportation of marijuana from Colorado.
If seeing the boys wasn’t exciting enough, a few hours away was the governor inauguration. Citizens ate quickly and walked quickly in the spitting rain the mile to the Capitol. Once there, the citizens got the chance to explore the historic building and get a bird’s eye view from the top observation deck.
With exploring done, the main event was on. The 2015 governor of Girls State, Kamryn Sannicks, the senators and the rest of the inaugural group were sworn in. Sannick’s mother, sister and other close friends watched her raise her right hand and repeat after the Supreme Court Justice. After all was said and done the citizens dispersed to different offices within the Nebraska government system to learn about their elected or appointed positions.
Rain continued to dampen the ground, but not the excitement of the impending visit to the Nebraska National Guard base. White buses came to pick girls up and take them to the base. The soldiers on the buses encouraged the girls to cheer as loud as possible all the way to the base and back again. Citizens got up close and personal with the equipment the National Guard uses on a regular basis, including Comanche aircraft, BAMBI buckets and the base control center. The base also had a jungle gym set up, allowing the girls to release all their pent up energy.
One would think all the excitement from the day would wear a teenager out. After floor meetings many girls went to different lobbies or rooms to hang out and unwind after the whirlwind day. They had realized that today marked the over half way point and Girls State is coming to an end.
Visit the Girls State Gazette Online tomorrow for coverage of Girls Nation interviews and the last joint session with Cornhusker Boys State.