Niagara Gazette — Is it hard to imagine a group of teenage girls running the whole state? And having fun doing so?
Not for Angela Gallo, 17, a Ransomville teen who was elected governor of the 2013 Empire Girls State this summer.
Girls State is a nonpartisan national program that teaches young women responsible citizenship. The New York program was held the week of July 1 at the State University of New York at Brockport.
There were 360 girls from all over the state gathered at the school, with 23 from Niagara and Erie counties. Their challenge: Create a mythical state, then divide into two imaginary political parties. The point is to teach them the complexities of working together — a challenge even when party lines are imaginary.
But, while Angela learned a lot about running a state, she also learned that politics and government are more about people than process.
“My notebook is filled with notes on parliamentary procedure,” she said after returning from the week-long adventure. “But, my heart is filled with friends and experiences. It was unforgettable.”
The girls wrote bills on education, national healthcare, anti-terrorism measures, and near the end of the week, held an election for governor.
Angela said her most memorable moment was when a fellow candidate gave a campaign speech asking her followers to vote for Angela.
“She said when she first got to Girls State she felt welcome, not because she knew anybody, but because she met somebody and that person was me,” Angela recalled.
And, as often happens in real-life politics, Angela found a way to thank the girl for her support. After Angela won the election, she rewarded her former competitor with a seat in her cabinet.
“I had to assign 12 spots. I immediately gave her the one that she wanted. She deserved it. Anybody who would stand up in front of the crowd and do something like that, in my mind, you deserve a seat.”