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South Jordan Journal

Two Bingham High Students Learn About Government at Girls State

Aug 22, 2016 01:26PM ● By Julie Slama

Alexis Hansen and Hayley Reagan learned about leadership and civic responsibility while participating at Girls State this summer. — Lori Reagan

By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Two friends, classmates and seniors this fall at Bingham High School took part in the 70th annual Girls State program.
The program, developed by the American Legion Auxiliary, is designed to develop leadership and promote civic responsibility. Held June 6 through June 11 at Weber State University with about 350 other high school students, the two students, Alexis Hansen and Hayley Reagan, learned how to launch campaigns, run for office, draft and debate legislation, and speak publically as well as how to participate in creating and running a working government. They also made and have maintained friendships with girls throughout the state.
For their experiences, the girls also earned three college credits in political science. They also received partial tuition scholarships at Weber State based on their grade-point averages and extra-curricular activities. But to them, it was more than getting school credit.
Hayley said that it was an opportunity to learn.
“I’m a big history buff, so this was amazing to partake in and learn first-hand how government works,” she said. “I became a city council woman and a mock trial juror and learned through those opportunities. I learned about determination, follow-through and perseverance.”
Part of her role in city council was to decide each girl’s role in the city, taking in accounts her interests and strengths. She also listened to both sides of the case in the mock trial, but her highlight was having a real judge there to learn about cases.
“It was really interesting when we learned about legal cases,” Hayley said. “We learned how important it was that a woman’s voice be heard in our government. I think it’s especially important for representation of women since it’s just not a man’s world.”
Throughout the week, there was a flag retirement ceremony and veterans shared their stories.
“I’ve always been patriotic, but hearing the stories from veterans made me feel more fortunate,” she said. “What these people and their families sacrificed helped me better understand our freedoms.”
In addition, people in government positions from city council members to Gov. Gary Herbert came to speak with the Girls State students, explaining their roles and the importance of being involved in the community and in the government.
For Alexis, Lt. Gov. Spencer Fox’s words clicked with her.
“The lieutenant governor’s speech really resonated with me,” she said. “He said to ‘work in local government.’ I’m not focusing to run for president but to make a greater impact on the community where I live so I can make a difference.”
Her career goals may align with what she learned as she is thinking of being a mayor or being a journalist covering foreign affairs.
“If I run for mayor of South Jordan or another community, I know use my experience and knowledge I’ve gained in Girls State will help me,” she said. “At Girls State I learned more about what goes into a bill to propose and write. It’s a lot different than at school when I was in the senate. I suggested putting in place an after-school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program for all kids in elementary school since so many young people don’t have them. I’ll be taking U.S. government this fall, and I know my experiences with Girls State will help me with that class, too.”
Alexis’ involvement with school and community activities could help her with her career goals. She is captain of the school’s debate team and is a member of the principal’s roundtable that meets with student leaders.
Since her freshman year, Alexis has served on the South Jordan Youth Council. This year, she is youth council mayor.
“I’ve talked with the South Jordan mayor a couple times, and there are some laws I want to look at as mayor. I understand more how government works and know ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’” she said, quoting “Spiderman.” “Through Girls State and South Jordan Youth Council, I have gained a lot of confidence and learned to stand up for what I believe in.”