American Legion Auxiliary Girls State at USD to Include Active Shooter Training

VERMILLION, S.D. – More than 400 high school junior girls from across South Dakota will take part in the 2016 American Legion Auxiliary South Dakota Girls State program May 30-June 4 that's hosted by the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership at USD. It will include training on responding to an active shooter.

This is the 70th year for the event and the 15th consecutive year that the University of South Dakota has hosted ALA SD Girls State, which teaches participants every aspect of American government, from the state and local level to the federal and executive branches. Delegates are divided into cities and counties where they have an opportunity to run for a mythical political office ranging from governor to local law enforcement positions.

They will also learn firsthand from state and local public servants, including South Dakota congressional members Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, and state Reps. Billie Sutton, Jean Hunhoff and Mike Stevens.

Inauguration of the new ALA SD Girls State governor will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Aalfs Auditorium in Slagle Hall with Elizabeth Spier, 2015 governor, providing the keynote address. The ALA SD Girls State Chorus, under the direction of Ethel Cooper, of Springfield, South Dakota, will present a patriotic concert prior to the inauguration ceremony.

Organizers have added a final event this year that will offer training to the delegates, their families and the general public on how to respond to someone with a gun who’s intending to do harm. At 9 a.m. Saturday, June 4, Yankton police Lt. Michael Burgeson will lead an active shooter presentation in Aalfs Auditorium. He is an Army veteran and active South Dakota National Guard soldier.

A complete list of activities and events, live video stream and other information is available at


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News