VALHALLA, N.Y. Most kids, during the summer before their senior year in high school, spend their time being lazy by the pool or playing video games but Jessica Grant had other plans.
After being approached by Valhalla Director of Guidance Andy Kupec about joining American Legion Auxiliary Girls State, Grant, whos three older brothers participated in Boys State, quickly jumped at the opportunity.
According to alaforveterans.org, American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is a program for high school students who have completed their junior year who are competitively selected to participate in the seven-day mock government program where they learn about civics and American government in an interactive program of campaigning, debating, voting, and electing mock local and state leaders.
Grant was selected for the Girls State program at SUNY Brockport where she stayed for a week in the middle of the summer and met girls from all over New York.
I was really nervous because I thought I would have a hard time meeting people but by the night everyone was extremely comfortable with each other, it was amazing, Grant said. When you get a group of girls who are interested and excited about the same things it really makes everything easier.
Girls State, said Grant, was composed of about 400 high school girls, which were broken down into 32 mythical counties, of which Grant became county executive of her county named, Earhart County, after Amelia Earhart.
I had to make a speech and read a poem about being County Executive and the responsibilities of it, Grant said. As a leader of a certain thing you have to be open to criticism and compliments and I was so thankful to God that there was no criticism at all. Its impossible that everyone will like you, so I was just really thankful in that regard.
Kupec said hes glad that Jessica had the chance to represent Valhalla High School through her accomplishments at Girls State.
Shes just a phenomenal young lady from a great family, Kupec said. Jessica has been, from the get-go, a solid student, a solid citizen of extremely high character, and just a joy to advise for the past four years.
Out of the 400 girls to attend Girls State, two of them were chosen to go on to Girls Nation in Washington D.C. and Grant was one of them.
She and just 97 other girls from throughout the country had the chance to briefly meet President Obama at the White House.
Grant, who wants to go to school for nutrition, said being away from home last summer gave her a taste of what college may be like and she said she always wants to stay true to herself.
Even though it was only for a week it felt much longer than that, Grant said. You have to be yourself because everyone else is taken. Just be yourself and you will be able to thrive wherever you are and youll attract people that are like-minded.
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