The annual event, now in its 62nd year, is designed to teach female high school juniors about civic participation. The South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary selected 456 girls from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government. During the week, they will be instructed on every aspect of American government from the state and local level to the federal and executive branches.

While on campus, students will be divided into cities and counties where they will have an opportunity to run for a mythical political office ranging from governor to local law enforcement positions. Students will also have an opportunity to learn firsthand from South Dakota political figures, including Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, who is scheduled to speak at the opening session on May 26; United States Sen. John Thune, who will address attendees during general assembly on May 29; and Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who will host a question and answer session about the state of South Dakota on May 30 at 9 a.m. in Slagle Auditorium. Karen Gerdes, chief clerk of the South Dakota House of Representatives, and Trudy Evenstad, secretary of the South Dakota Senate, will also be in attendance while local attorneys and judges plan to assist students with judicial presentations. Additionally, the Clay County Sheriff’s Department will meet with students regarding law enforcement and forensic investigation procedures.

Daily activities include general assembly at Slagle Auditorium; law and court procedure classes presented by Chris Hutton, a professor with the USD School of Law; talent auditions; invited keynote speakers; campus tours; and Journalism City, a media center comprised of high school journalists who publish a daily newspaper.

This is the seventh consecutive year the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership is host to the American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State program. For more information, including a brief history and a list of activities and events, please visit where daily general assemblies will be televised live; or contact Cheryl Hovorka, campus coordinator for the W.O. Farber Center and South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary Girls State Director, at (605) 677-5702 or e-mail

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