GPS Students and Faculty Attend Girls State

Amal Ali '19 is chosen to attend Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., the third GPS student in four years to represent Tennessee at nationals as a senator
A team of leaders from Girls Preparatory School attended the 2018 session of the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Volunteer Girls State (VGS) in May at the Lipscomb University campus in Nashville. Four rising GPS seniors and a number of alumnae served at the 72nd annual session. From the GPS Class of 2019, Carmen Resnick, Charlotte Vance, Amal Ali, and Olivia Fannon were among the more than 500 high school students at the weeklong leadership and citizenship training program. Amal Ali was chosen to represent Tennessee at nationals as a senator at Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., this week, where she was nominated as the presidential candidate for the Nationalists Party Ticket.

The nonpartisan leadership and citizenship training program, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, has been a proving ground for GPS students and their abilities. Ali joins an impressive list of GPS students who have been elected to leadership positions and gone on to the national session. For seven of the past nine years, a GPS student has been chosen for a top Girls State honor including:

  • Nisha Boyington ’11, Girls Nation Senator in 2010
  • Sarah Shaw ’12, Girls State Governor in 2011
  • Emma McCallie ’13, Girls Nation Senator in 2012
  • Emily You ’14, Girls State Governor in 2013
  • Caroline West ’16, Girls Nation Senator in 2015
  • Katie Brandao ’17, Girls Nation Senator in 2016
  • Amal Ali ’19, Girls Nation Senator in 2018

This year also marked the 30th year for Citizenship Director Jenise Gordon, GPS Head of Upper School, to volunteer at Girls State; Suzanne Smartt, former faculty and GPS Faculty Emeriti honoree, completed her 53rd year as a volunteer. Several GPS alumnae were also in attendance. “If you take into account all the counselors and staff, GPS folks make up about 10 percent of the team at Girls State,” says Gordon. Those volunteering in addition to Gordon and Smartt included Caroline West ’16, Rachel Raisin ’16, Emily You ’14, Mary Chandler Gwin ’14, Pierson Brown ’18, Kate Commander ’04, Emma McCallie ’13, Laura Laughlin ’10, Delaney Swann ’17, Meg Marshall ’18, and Nisha Boyington ’11.

Since 1937, Girls State has served as the American Legion Auxiliary's marquee program is one of the most respected experiential learning programs in the United States. According to the ALA Girls State website, the program epitomizes its mission to honor those who have brought our freedom through our enduring commitment to develop young women as future leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism. Those attending become knowledgeable of the democratic process and how our republic form of government works at the state and national levels.

Approximately 16,000 young women participate in weeklong ALA Girls State programs across the nation. Each American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program features a nonpartisan curriculum where students assume the roles of government leaders, campaigning in mock parties (often called Federalists and Nationalists) to become mayors and county and state officials of their ALA Girls State.