Patricia Player didn't let planning a June 14 wedding interfere with her duties as a counselor at Utah Girls State. Player, counselor of Rampton City, said she and her mother, an assistant director of Girls State, have been working on the wedding at nights after Girls State activities have concluded.
Player says the stress isn't too bad, but it has made for an interesting week juggling supervising the girls in her city and planning for the wedding. She attended Girls State following her junior year at South Sevier High School, and her sister is attending this year."I have eight more days until the wedding, and the building my city meets in on campus is the same building where my fiance works, so I get to see him," said Player, who is a business education major at Southern Utah University.
She said that her dad is very interested in politics, and through the Girls State family experience, she and her mother and sister can all talk to him more about it now.
Player feels strongly about the values Girls State teaches. "I learned what party meetings are and why they are held. It really makes the girls learn more about patriotism, and they go back with a great sense of it."
McKinzie Miller of North Sevier High School in Salina is in Rampton City, named after former Utah Gov. Cal Rampton. Miller said Girls State has helped her gain more love for our country. "It's taught me leadership skills and how to come and be on my own and meet new people. I've met tons and tons of friends."
Miller encouraged other girls to plan on attending following their junior year. "Do it if you can," she said.
Another Rampton City citizen is Carrie Nelson of Emery High School. Nelson calls her experience "awesome! It made me learn respect for the flag and I've met lots of new people."
Counselors like Player preside over the girls for the entire week. There is a counselor for each of the 14 cities named after Utah's former governors.
Counselors must get the girls up, keep them aware of what meetings they should be attending, and keep them excited about the program, according to counselor Paula Michaelsen of Richfield. Michaelsen presides over Cutler City.
"I just love youth. I love to work with young women. I just think they're awesome, and it helps me to know the kind of things I want to teach my children," Michaelsen said.
Alisa Cox of Bountiful High School is in Michaelsen's city. The most memorable experience for Cox was the flag-burning ceremony. "I've never seen that done before. The way that they did it was so amazing to me, and it showed how much respect the veterans have for the flag. I have so much respect for it now." Cox is running for Supreme Court justice. She said she is planning to pursue a law degree after graduation from Bountiful next spring.
Traci Fowler of Sandy will be a senior at Copper Hills High School in the fall and is also a citizen of Cutler City. Fowler said the most valuable thing she has learned during the week is friendship.
Nearly 400 girls from Utah high schools have been attending the 49th session of Girls State since June 2. The girls have been learning about the operation of local and state governments. The program is sponsored by the Utah American Legion Auxiliary. SUU has hosted Girls State every summer for 26 years.
Stephanie Blossom of Cottonwood High School, elected last year as governor of Girls State, has presided over this year's sessions, along with her attorney general Sara Johnson of Judge Memorial High School. Girls Nation senators Emily Cromar of Brighton High and Jennifer Jensen of Skyline High are also assisting Blossom. The two attended Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., last summer.
The citizens of Girls State elected new state officers Friday, and the annual graduation ceremony was held Saturday.