Each summer, rising seniors across the state gather for a weeklong, nonpartisan program centered on citizenship, teamwork, and fostering a love of God and country. During this experiential learning opportunity designed to empower young women to become and remain civically engaged leaders, attendees elect officials, engage in party politics, debate legislation, and collaborate in various activities.
This year, six students from the GPS Class of 2023 attended the conference, held at Lipscomb University, where they heard from prominent speakers, discussed real-world issues, participated in competitions, and enjoyed a fireside chat with all three female Tennessee Supreme Court justices. Attendees included Hannah Grace Kornberg, Abigail Mann, Anya Parambath, Anisha Phade, Olivia Stafford, and Anabel Wilson.
During the convention, students can be elected to various positions at the city, county, and state levels. The highest-ranking position awarded is Governor. Two GPS students, Anya Parambath and Anabel Wilson, moved forward after the straw poll election and delivered speeches, but neither won their primary. Instead, they had the opportunity to run as independent candidates if they could secure enough signatures. Both set out to do just that, but with only 15 minutes remaining to gather signatures, neither had reached the threshold. That’s when Anabel decided to sign hers over to Anya, so she could continue on in the race.
Anya said, “Everyone slept in that morning, so we couldn’t get more signatures,” and girls could not sign more than one candidate’s sheet. “Anabel offered me her signatures without my asking, and we asked a counselor if that would be okay and she said it would. I started crying!”
Anya went on to the final debate, one-on-one campaigning, and voting, which paid off with a victory! She was named Governor and was sworn in by the Chief Supreme Court Justice during her inauguration, which her parents were able to attend.
In addition to winning Governor, Anya was also elected as one of two Girls Nation Senators, which means she will head to the national convention in Washington, DC, in July, and was named Best Citizen for her city.
Anya, however, was not the only GPS student to walk away from the week with impressive accolades. Additional awards and honors included:
Hannah Grace Kornberg | appointed City Reporter, elected County Commissioner, and appointed State Attorney General
Abigail Mann | elected City Judge and State Senator
Anisha Phade | honored with the Best Citizen Award and elected City Mayor, County Mayor, and State Senator
Olivia Stafford | named one of five Supreme Court Justices
Anabel Wilson | elected to the City Council and also served as a National Gubernatorial Primary Nominee.
Head of Upper School Jenise Gordon, who has volunteered with ALA VGS for 33 years, served this year as chairwoman. She said, “I continue to be amazed that our girls join Girls State and rise to top positions, which speaks powerfully about how GPS prepares them well. Their skills of communication and collaboration are put to the test at Girls State and they succeed!”