Alyssa Hansen attends Girls State

By Suzanne Robinson
Empire Press Correspondent

Alyssa Hansen (top row, far right) with her community at Girls State. (Provided photo/Alyssa Hansen)

Earlier this year, the Waterville Philomathic Club of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs selected Alyssa Hansen from Waterville High School to be its representative to attend the American Legion Auxiliary Evergreen Girls State program June 11-17 at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

Evergreen Girls State is a statewide governmental, Americanism and citizenship program where delegate “citizens” have the opportunity to study local, county and state government processes. They do this by setting up their own city, county and state governments and then administer them according to the laws of the state of Washington.

Hansen was one of several area high school girls selected to attend Girls State. All participants were incoming seniors.

“It is a huge honor to be chosen and it is also a great opportunity for girls to learn about how our government works,” said Cathy Clark, a representative for the Philomathic Club.

Alyssa Hansen (top row, far right) with her community at Girls State. (Provided photo/Alyssa Hansen)

During the weeklong event, the girls stayed in dorms and were required to follow a dress code. Each girl was assigned to a “community” and given responsibilities for their community. Each community was also given a problem to solve through the government process. Hansen’s community was a small logging town with a struggling economy due to the loss of jobs.

The first job that the girls were to work on was to write a bill and get it passed through both the House and Senate. Their bill, that did pass, was to change the business attire to pajamas.

Hansen was elected to the judicial system and was required to pass a bar exam to become a judge for her community. She heard cases in a courtroom setting, complete with clerks and sheriffs. Judge Ruth Reukauf from Yakima County Superior Court presided over the inauguration for those who were elected. Reukauf shared with the girls what her job was and what made it fun.

Hansen’s mother, Amber Zones, said the experience was really outside of her daughter’s comfort zone but it was an “awesome experience.”

During the week, the girls listened to speakers from various levels of Washington state government about different topics. One of Hansen’s favorite speakers was Marah Walden, who spoke to the girls about making and choosing the right friends.

Each girl received letters from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Gov. Jay Inslee and also heard from Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

Hansen enjoyed the experience and learned so much that she signed up to be a counselor for next year’s Girls State program.