Support needed

To the Journal editor:

On April 16, city of Marquette Mayor Bob Niemi, City Manager Bill Vajda and I were guests at the American Legion Post 44 to meet the young men and women who were selected to go to Girls and Boys State this summer.

Girls and Boys State is a week-long training for high school seniors who are interested in learning more about the basic structure, ideas and principles of government. The session takes place every year in June at and around our state capital in Lansing.

As we heard from the students who attended last year, I was amazed at the unique experiences they gained from the week-long session. They campaigned for specific roles as senators, attorneys and councilmen /women.

Others were appointed judges, department heads and police officers. Several noted how competitive the roleplaying was and even how political certain situations became. You could hear their passion for government come alive as they relived their experiences. It was truly inspiring to listen to them. They are clearly our future leaders in training.

After hearing from past students, we met this year’s participants that also consisted of four boys and four girls.

Marquette is fortunate that our local American Legion Post 44 and American Legion Auxiliary provide a total of 8 scholarships for students each year. However, this year there were also four additional Girls State alternates who did not get a scholarship but could attend if they pay their own way. The cost for each additional student is $430 or $1,720 total for all four alternates.

As an elected official, I am excited to see an increase in young women seeking the opportunity to role-play their different interests in government at girls state. Women have always been and continue to be a minority in the legislative process, yet we make up over half the population.

It isn’t often that elected officials call upon our friends, colleagues and community members to help support a cause that we feel is important. However, when it comes to supporting youth in our community who are interested in learning more about government and how it works, I have decided to step up to the plate and help the four female alternates attend. I hope you will, too.

Donations in any amount can be sent to Patty Stevens at the American Legion Auxiliary. For more information, call Patty at 228-7140.