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Girls State at USD concludes with elections, awards presentation

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The 66th annual South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State concluded recently at the University of South Dakota with the traditional election of officers and presentation of awards.

Under the direction of Cheryl Hovorka of the W.O. Farber Center at USD, 2012 Girls State featured 400 girls who will enter their senior year of high school this fall. Participants were selected from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government.

Molly Hermann of Sturgis was elected Girls State Governor and Charley Gross of Huron was elected Lt. Governor. Additional elections included KayDe Roth of Sturgis, Attorney General; Rachelle Moore of Artesian, Secretary of State; Morgan Pageler of Sisseton, State Auditor; Rebecca Buechler of Chancellor, State Treasurer; Shantiel Kaiser of Rapid City, Commissioner of School and Public Lands. Elected to the Public Utilities Commission were Caitlyn Bagley of Custer, and Audrey Gall and Lindsey Raker of Scotland.

In non-political elections, Girls State delegates elected Mary Ginsbach of Hot Springs, Mae Meierhenry of Sioux Falls, Camille Maciejewski of Hot Springs, Kassandra Friese of Sioux Falls, Caitlyn Schwebach of Tea, Kaylynn Noethlich of Doland as six justices to serve on the Supreme Court. Katelyn Johnson of Sioux Falls was elected as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Leslie Cope of Rapid City was chosen as the Speaker of the House of Representatives while Laura Alexander of Henry was selected as the Nationalist Party Chair and Elizabeth Renner of Crooks as the Nationalist Party Keynote Speaker. The Federalist Party elected Jenna Croymans of Aberdeen as keynote speaker and the Federalist Party elected Amanda Wagemann of Aberdeen as party chair. Megan Ford of Yankton was recipient of the outstanding journalist award and Kirstyn Fiala of Miller received the highest exam score. Justice Mack of Spearfish captured outstanding speaker honors and Laura Alexander of Henry was selected as the Outstanding Girls State Citizen.

Awards were also presented to Alecia VanTassel of Wolsey, Best Circuit Court Judge; Ann Shoemaker of Rapid City, Best Prosecuting Attorney; Mikayla Gallagher of Spearfish, Best Defense Attorney; Elizabeth Magnuson of Sioux Falls, Best Appellate Attorney; KayDe Roth of Sturgis, Best Appellee Attorney; Rachel Nevin of Sioux Falls, Outstanding Forensic Investigator; Mikala Hora of Yankton, President of Citizens Forum; and Tiara Gibson of Clear Lake received the Vice President Citizens Forum award.

Dana Kaufman of Freeman and Kayla Sylvester of Yankton were chosen as delegates to represent South Dakota at The American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation in Washington, D.C. (Cara Beck of Mitchell and Sarah Larson of Watertown are alternates) while Jenna Brende of Renner was selected as the 2012 recipient of a $1,000 Samsung American Legion Scholarship. Kyla Melchizedek of Lesterville was awarded the Bonnie Slade Memorial Scholarship and Olivia Christopher of Yankton received the Travis Memorial Scholarship.


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 202 undergraduate and 78 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 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News