The South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary selected 436 girls from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government. The annual event is designed to teach female high school juniors about civic participation and in honor of the 65th anniversary, the week is being dedicated to the past Girls State Governors. Emily Firman Pieper, 1994 Girls State Governor from Flandreau, is the keynote speaker for the inauguration of the new Girls State Governor at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 3 in Slagle Auditorium. Prior to the inauguration, the Girls State chorus will present a patriotic concert.

Throughout the week, participants are taught every aspect of American government from the state and local level to the federal and executive branches. Students will also have an opportunity to learn firsthand from South Dakota politicians, including U.S. Sen. John Thune, U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, Dustin Johnson, Chief of Staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, S.D. Attorney General Marty Jackley, State Sen. Jean Hunhoff of Yankton, S.D., and Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who will participate in a state of South Dakota Q&A session at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 3 in Slagle Auditorium. Local attorneys and judges will assist with the program’s judicial segment and the Clay County Sheriff’s Department will oversee the law enforcement process. 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. The USD campus newspaper, The Volante, will assist 13 Girls State journalists in preparing a daily newspaper at the Al Neuharth Media Center.

Additional Girls State activities include general assemblies in Slagle Auditorium; law and court procedure classes presented by Chris Hutton, a professor with the USD School of Law; talent auditions; keynote speakers; campus tours; and various presentations and meetings. A college/career fair is scheduled for Wednesday, June 1 in the Muenster University Center. All colleges and universities that offer scholarships to the Girls State participants have been invited as well as the military recruiters. This is the 10th consecutive year that USD and the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership have co-hosted the American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State program. For more information, including a brief history and a list of activities and events, please visit or contact Cheryl Hovorka, Girls State Director, at (605) 677-5702 or e-mail:

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