Winter Sports School student selected to represent Utah at Girls Nation
June 20, 2018
Maxine Dalton signed up for the government learning program Girls State because she knew she could earn three college credits if she attended. On the first day, she felt like an outcast and wondered why she had come. No one was voting for her.
Then, on day two, her group rallied to select one candidate to run for a mock U.S. Senate position. They chose Dalton, and she began to feel like she belonged.
Dalton, a senior at the Winter Sports School, was recently selected as one of two girls in the state to represent Utah at Girls Nation in Washington, D.C. The event is scheduled to run from July 21 to 28. During the Girls State and Girls Nation programs, female students entering their senior year learn the legislative process and the organization of cities, counties, states and the country through campaigning and voting for each other. Two students from each state are set to attend the national event.
Girls State and Girls Nation are organized by the American Legion Auxiliary.
Attendees of Girls Nation in the past have met with the president, and Dalton said that she would be excited to meet President Donald Trump and Utah's senators, as well as visit popular attractions in Washington, D.C. She and the other Utah representative are also tasked with writing a bill together that they will have to defend at the program.
But what she is perhaps most looking forward to is bonding with girls from around the country.
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Dalton said that the friendships she gained during Girls State was one of her biggest takeaways from the program. The approximately 350 girls who participated in Utah's event were divided into cities, and she spent almost every minute with the girls in her group. She was surprised that they could get to know each other as quickly as they did.
"The support that they gave me was really cool," she said.
Tess Miner-Farra, head of the Winter Sports School, said the Girls State program is a valuable experience and that she is glad Dalton participated. She said that Dalton has been involved in different leadership positions at the school and is a "natural-born leader."
"Because she has such maturity, charisma, intelligence and composure, it is no surprise that she was elected," she said.
Dalton also learned from the program about the difficulties of running for office. For the mock Senate seat, she had to write a bill, take a test and then go head-to-head with another candidate to argue why her bill would be beneficial. Her bill would require high school-aged students to undergo a mental wellness screening before they can attend school each year to prevent suicide and school shootings. She said that she got minimal sleep during the six days that she was there.
She was motivated and inspired by the event and the amount of time that the volunteers put in to run it.
"I was surprised by how much the American Legion cares about developing us into responsible citizens, people who care about their votes and people who care about other people," she said.
She is eager to remain involved as she attends Girls Nation next month and participates as an official at Girls State next summer. One day, she said that she might actually run for office.
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