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Program attendees develop a mock government at program held at Willamette University

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Estacada High School students Linda-Claire Arnett and Taylor Thom attended the Girls State program this past summer.

Two Estacada High School students will share the leadership experiences they had this summer during an upcoming meeting of Estacada's American Legion Carl Douglas Post.

Linda-Claire Arnett and Taylor Thom, seniors at Estacada High School, attended the American Legion Auxiliary Oregon Girls State session from June 11-17 at Willamette University in Salem. They will speak at the Thursday, Oct. 19, meeting of the American Legion Carl Douglas Post.

Arnett and Thom were joined by approximately 150 other rising seniors from across Oregon. The program, available across the U.S. and sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, focuses on increasing participants' knowledge of governmental processes and citizenship. Attendees develop and participate in a mock government, which includes campaigning for public offices, drafting and presenting bills for passage in the Girls State legislature, serving as a lobbyist or journalist and participating in mock trials.

Both Thom and Arnett enjoyed being involved in these activities during their time at Girls State. Arnett was part of the senate and the spokesperson for the Nationalist party. In this role, she helped create the party's platform. Thom was a journalist and reported on various happenings in the program.

"(Being a journalist) was cool because I saw everything," she said. "I sat in on senate sessions and wrote stories."

The senate proposed several bills, including one that advocated for pesticides that were less damaging to honey bees.

In addition to participating in government activities, Girls State attendees heard from a variety of guest speakers.

"We heard from women in science, and a lot of them were told 'no, you can't,' but there they were (pursuing their field)," Thom said, discussing speakers she found inspiring.

Arnett added that meeting new people in a different environment was valuable.

"Coming from a small town, you don't always get to meet a lot of new people," she said. "Girls State was so large, it proved to me that I can do ok not knowing everybody, which is helpful as a senior going to college."

She also valued the senate's debates.

"It's nice to hear other people's opinions that don't necessarily coincide with ours," she said.

Both Arnett and Thom encourage any high school students interesting in finding out more about Girls State to do so. The program is open juniors during the summer before their senior year.

"I really want to promote it," Thom said. "It was the experience of a lifetime, and very cool. (If you attend,) you won't regret it."

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