Pushing Past Societal Expectations at ALA Empire Girls State

Hello everyone, my name is Sophie LaForest. My time here at American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girls State has been amazing.  I’ve grown up in government; my mom has worked in New York State government for almost twenty-five years. Right now, she is the Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. At ALA Empire Girls State, my county executive appointed me the Commissioner of Agriculture.

ALA Empire Girls State (EGS) has been super interesting to me because I have seen this whole process in real life. I have shadowed my assemblywoman, Pat Fahey, and sat in and helped vote on bills. Soon, we’ll be voting on our own ALA EGS bills. I’ve written many letters to congressmen and women, but now I know how to properly draft a bill! This opportunity has given me deeper understanding and appreciation of the real-world experiences I’ve had. I campaigned for Governor Cuomo starting in third grade, and since have been involved in as many local elections as I’ve known about. But, never have I campaigned myself. I ran for Governor of EGS Tuesday night. All the while thinking of all of the amazing women that came from all over New York State and thrive in government.

While my mom always said it’s a popularity contest, the girls here don’t treat campaigning, and elections as such. I’ve learned that the citizens of ALA EGS are focused on the speeches and how each candidate carries herself. Many girls made posters or handed out candy or even met with different floors, but the biggest thing were the speeches. They offered the most insight into the women running for office. Campaigning in the real world is harder because we need to inform people of the election before we can start talking candidates.

Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at my sister’s graduation and inspired me to really push myself.  As a woman, I have a duty to push past societal expectations and to empower more generations.  ALA Empire Girls State has offered me that exact opportunity. The opportunity to take risks with little consequence of failing.  The environment here is incredibly supportive and the brilliance of all these girls is astounding. I would like to close with a thank you to my mom, Pat Fahey, Kirsten Gillibrand and Hillary Rodham Clinton for inspiring me to be politically active and giving me my voice. Thank you to everyone at ALA EGS for allowing me to TRY. Without the girls and staff here, I really could not have done this!

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ALA Empire Girls State Gazette Vol 3, Issue 2

Check out the American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girls State Gazette Volume 3, Issue 2!

 

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Empire Girls State: Sisterhood, Compassion, & Leadership

Empire Girls State:
Sisterhood, Compassion, & Leadership

 

Monday July 2, 2018

Every year, during the first week of July, people ask me why I volunteer my time to American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girl State. I can safely say that it’s not because of the air conditioning (or lack thereof) or even the super “comfy” dorm beds, it is because of what I got to experience as a citizen. It has been six years since I was a fresh faced citizen of American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girl State(EGS). I remember coming in to this program with a shallow knowledge of what the week would entail. I knew of the elections, and campaigning, even the focus on Americanism. Being born on Flag day, I was more than willing to participate. Little did I know, I would be making bonds that would last a lifetime, and that the women I would spend my very hot week at American Legion Auxiliary EGS with, would affect my future in more ways than one. Being surrounded by equally strong and empowered women, is intimidating but worth it! I learned so much about politics, America and surprisingly myself. The American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girl State is a hidden gem among leadership programs. The ALA provides young women with an amazing opportunity to not only learn about politics and America, but also about themselves.

So, returning to the question of why do I continue to return to American Legion Auxiliary EGS? I say, American Legion Auxiliary EGS is something that you have to experience to understand the level of sisterhood, and compassion that these women learn for each other and our country. I am proud to return to American Legion Auxiliary EGS every year as a staff member, and be a part of the continued growth of this program and all that it offers to young women!

Lindsey Krempa
American Legion Auxiliary Member
ALA Empire Girls State Senior Counselor
2012 Ross County Sheriff
2012 ALA EGS Lt. Governor

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Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Hear Ye, Year Ye!

Each year the ALA Empire Girls State Citizens submit articles to the ALA Empire Girls State Gazette. The Gazette is then edited by and formatted to include some fun by the ALA Empire Girls State Secretary Wendy Privitera and published throughout the week!
Check out today’s edition!

ALA Empire Girls State Gazette Volume 3 Issue 1

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Respecting Our American Flag

7/1/2018
Today’s blog comes from the Rankin Senior Counselor Katie Dorminey. Katie is a 26 year member of the American Legion Auxiliary and is currently a Lieutenant in the United States Army. Today’s blog provides insight into what the American Flag means to her and the importance of respecting and honoring the flag. Throughout the week at the American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girls State program participants will participate in a variety of activities and ceremonies that promote Americanism and respect for the American Flag.

Sometimes, the American Flag comes off of the coffins of  military service members, police, firefighters, and other civil servants who paid an ultimate price in order to protect American people. During those sobering occasions, the flag is draped over the coffin of the lost, and is carried into the funeral ceremony on the shoulders of the Fallen’s Brothers and Sisters in Arms- – other Public Servants . Next, another group of the service member’s brothers and sisters lift the Flag off of the coffin, and then with great deliberation and reverence, fold this flag neatly into a triangle. One of the members carefully takes the flag and, after closely holding it to their heart, hands the flag to the Family of the Fallen.

If you cannot show reverence to  “just a flag”, then perhaps you can express some gratitude to the little boy who lost his mother when she was caught in an accident while fighting in Iraq. Or perhaps to the wife of the firefighter who had gone bravely into a falling building to ensure someone else’s safety and did not come back out. If you cannot feel gratitude when you see the stars and stripes, perhaps you can feel gratitude to the thousands and thousands of young men who suffered through long, arduous tours in Europe and central Asia, solely because their moral calling to protect the American People was stronger than their fear of what lay ahead.

I say these things not to spread guilt or shame. It took me a long time to fully understand what I was really looking at when I was looking at the American Flag, and that understanding continues to deepen and shift as I grow up. When I look at the Flag now, or have the opportunity to sing the Star Spangled Banner or say The Pledge of Allegiance, I take it very seriously. And I expect those around me to take this seriously. If you can’t honor a Red, White, and Blue banner, I hope that you can at least pay respect to your neighbors who have placed your well being in higher priority than their own.

 

 

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Hello from ALA Empire Girls State 2017!

Phew! What a fast 36 hours we have had! The girls arrived, settled in, found their cheering voices and have had a lot of fun! To get a glimpse of the fun and see what we have been up to, I present to you our First  ALA Empire Girls State Gazette !

Volume 2 issue 1 2017

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Thursday Recap!

Long nights lead to early mornings . . . the citizens have learned that this week!!
PATRIOTIC DAY TODAY!  Red, white and blue attire was worn by all attending and volunteering at Girls State today!  Some a little crazy, but all were very patriotic!  After breakfast and the flag posting ceremony performed by Earhart County with two buglers echoing “Taps,” Department President Jan spoke about the American Legion Auxiliary and some of the programs:  Children  Youth, Veteran Affairs & Rehabilitation, Poppy Program, Warrior Family Assistance and the American Legion Auxiliary College.
The State Session reconvened with the 22 members of the Senate sitting up front and the Governor, Lt. Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General and the Secretary of State sitting up on stage.  The Lt. Governor is the President of the Legislature and session was called to order.  Bills that have been worked on during the week were introduced by the respective Chair of the Bills Committee.  The bills were debated upon in the Assembly and the Senate and then voted upon.  A majority is needed to pass a Bill in each House.  If the Bill was passed it is forwarded on to the Governor for action of which would be announced Friday morning.  Five out of twelve bills were passed by a majority of votes.  The Secretary of State read a brief report of what transpired during Session and the Lt. Governor adjourned the meeting.
After dinner, a flag retrieval ceremony was performed by Anthony County.  All Citizens and Staff participated in the County Fun Night which consisted of skits performed by each County!  The citizens then went into the Fireside Lounge
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Wednesday Recap!

Another beautiful day on the Brockport College campus!
Our morning started with a flag posting ceremony and a song by the Clinton County citizens.
We then had a presentation by the Department Americanism Chairman talking about Blue Star banners which were given to citizens who have family members actively serving in the military.   It’s an American tradition to display a Blue Star Service Banner in the window of a home when a loved one is proudly serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  The banner is a white banner with one or more blue stars sewn into a red banner.  Depending on how many children are currently serving would determine how many stars are sewn on the banner.  We had presented 20 one-star banners and 1 two-star banner to our citizens.
The County Executive announced her appointments this morning and the Nationalist and Federalist Party presented their platforms.  There was then a warm round of applause and shouts of excitement as the State Officer candidates were presented from both Parties.
The Committees came back together and finalized their Bills which will be reviewed tonight by the State Comptroller of each Party.  Each Committee was then given a Case Study to begin writing their Resolutions.
After another working lunch, Committees then went back to their Counties where the County Judge presided over her court with the County DA representing the County.  Any citizen that was issued a citation during the last couple days went to court and either represented herself or asked a fellow citizen to represent her as her lawyer.
After Court, the Citizens prepped in their party color of either Blue or Yellow for a parade around campus followed by a very loud and spirited rally between the two parties in the campus ballroom. The citizens put on skits to show their Party spirit and ended with an even louder rally between the two parties!  If you could have only heard ~ 360 girls chanting their party cheers!!  LOUD, BUT AWESOME!!

They all then quieted down for a Town Hall meeting with the Candidates, moderated by the Political Instructor and Parliamentarian.  The Candidates then had a debate against each other for the State offices and answered questions that were received from the Counties for the Candidates.
Following the debate, instructions were given on how to vote using a voting machine.  Citizens then registered and citizens then used the voting machine to vote for their State Officers.
After dinner, O’Connor County citizens sang “The Grand Old Flag” and the color guard retrieved the flag.  ALA Department President, Jan, who had just returned from presenting at Boys State at SUNY Morrisville reported about her meeting with the citizens and told us about what they did at Boys State!
O’Connor County performed the flag retrieval ceremony with pride!  The citizens then listened to the poppy story, two poems and “In Flanders Field.”  They learned that our veterans make the poppies that are distributed around Memorial Day and are paid $0.10 per poppy.  The funds that are raised from the distribution of the poppies can only be used for Veterans and/or their families.  The citizens were then given all the pieces of a poppy and instructions on how to make their own poppy.  This wasn’t as easy as you would think . . . but they had fun trying!
The State Official Candidates were once again announced and the citizens then broke out into their political parties to begin the Girls Nation voting.  Two citizens per county were eligible to be nominated in each party caucus for Girls Nation.  The nominated citizens were escorted out of the room and one by one came back in to give a one-minute speech.  After all nominees were finished, ballots were distributed for each county and votes were announced, counted and the top 5 vote getters were announced.  These citizens will then prepare a 2-minute speech to be given in front of the entire Girls State body on Friday morning!
Meetings were adjourned and the citizens went back to their dorms for fun, speech preparation and birthday celebrations!
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Check Out Today!

Did anyone pick up a gray and white chevron pillowcase with clothes and a gray fluffy blanket inside?  Contact us at:  empiregirlsstate@gmail.com.  We believed someone picked it up by accident!

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Thank you for the article, Batavia Daily News!

Great story covering American Legion Auxiliary Girls State!

The Batavia Daily News article

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