VERMILLION, S.D. – The 70th annual American Legion Auxiliary South Dakota Girls State drew 390 girls to the University of South Dakota last week, which concluded with the traditional election of officers and presentation of awards.
Under the direction of Cheryl Hovorka, ALA SD Girls State director, the participants who will enter their senior year of high school this fall were selected from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government.
Raina Grimsley, of Mitchell, was elected ALA SD Girls State governor and Caroline Moriarty, of Sioux Falls, was elected lieutenant governor. Additional elections included Maia Gabrielson, of Sioux Falls, attorney general; Miranda Winterringer, of Yankton, secretary of state; Hailey Nold, of Sioux Falls, state auditor; Ashlynne Beninga, of Sioux Falls, state treasurer; Hailey Scoular, of Aberdeen, commissioner of school and public lands. Elected to the Public Utilities Commission were Aleesha Alverson, of Aberdeen, Joslyn Hurlbert, of Raymond, and Kadra Kayser, of Emery.
In non-political elections, Girls State delegates elected Alora Huffman, of Black Hawk, Hannah McClelland, of Vermillion, Emily Wiley, of Webster, Elise Wheeler, of Philip, Holly Gerberding, of Sturgis, and Ella Graham, of Wentworth, as six justices to serve on the Supreme Court. Sarah Lane, of Hot Springs, was elected as chief justice of the Supreme Court. Sierra Wieseler, of Gettysburg, was chosen as the speaker of the House of Representatives while Sydney Powers, of Brookings, was selected as president pro tempore. Sydney Powers, of Brookings, was selected as the Nationalist Party chairwoman and Katie Patrick, of Sioux Falls, as the Nationalist Party keynote speaker. The Federalist Party elected Laura Selman, of Colman, as keynote speaker and the Federalist Party elected Keri Pappas, of Groton, as party chairwoman. Nadine Moore, of Mitchell, was the recipient of the outstanding journalist award and Caroline Moriarty, of Sioux Falls, received the highest exam score. Grace Homer, of Garretson, was selected as the outstanding ALA SD Girls State citizen. Madison Hansen, of Watertown, was selected outstanding speaker of the Senate and Elie Krizan, of Hartford, was selected outstanding speaker of the House.
Awards were also presented to Tatianna Fuerniss, of Delmont, best circuit court judge; Libby Absher, of Kimball, best prosecuting attorney; Katie Swanson, of Pukwana, best defense attorney; Elise Ackerman, of Harrisburg, best appellate attorney; Rachel Friez, of Sioux Falls, best appellee attorney; Cheyenne Davis, of Belle Fourche, outstanding forensic investigator.
Ashlynne Beninga, of Sioux Falls, and Lauren Rink, of Huron, were chosen as delegates to represent South Dakota at the American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., with Lynsey Klunder, of Elk Point, and Sydney Noordsy, of Brookings, serving as alternates. Kate Kruse, of Lesterville, was selected as the 2016 recipient of a $1,100 Samsung American Legion scholarship. Sadie Meyerink, of Geddes, was awarded the Bonnie Slade memorial scholarship, Sadie Bingham, of Gary, was awarded the Helen Gottlesben memorial scholarship and Lauren Svatos, of Gregory, received the Travis memorial scholarship.