Waterville girl attends Girls State

Cithlali Chavez, a Waterville High School senior, attended Evergreen Girls State in June. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

 

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Cithlali Chavez, bottom row, second from right, with other Girls State delegates in their designated City of Chisholm. (Provided photo/Cithlali Chavez)

Cithlali Chavez is a Waterville High School senior who is interested in building her leadership skills and preparing for a future in either medicine or business.

This June she had the chance to attend Evergreen Girls State at the Central Washington University campus in Ellensburg.

The annual program, a project of the American Legion Auxiliary, gives girls who have just finished their junior year in high school the chance to learn about the Washington State government system in an interactive environment. Participants come from high schools all over the state.

Waterville has a long tradition of sending delegates to Girls State. Since 1968, the scholarship for Waterville girls has been awarded by the Waterville GFWC Philomathic Club. Before this, it was awarded by the Waterville branch of the American Legion Auxiliary. The Girls State program began in Washington State in 1937.

Because of an increase in the price for the four-day program, this year the Philomathic Club approached Harmony Chapter No. 56, Order of the Eastern Star, to see if they would partner financially to provide the scholarship for the Waterville student. The Harmony Chapter agreed and each group covered half of the scholarship cost.

Students filled out an application through the Wenatchee American Legion Auxiliary and the sponsoring groups chose the girl to award the scholarship.

Chavez said that during the program, the girls spent two days in groups that represented cities. They needed to build a model of their city with only what they had available in their rooms. They also had to try to solve problems. For Chavez’ city, the problem was that a local dam had been decommissioned and jobs needed to be found for those who had previously worked at the dam. Chavez served as the mayor of her city. Cities cooperated with other cities to solve their problems.

Chavez said that she was impressed by the process of collaboration in solving the problems that were before the group.

“It was nice realizing how different minds can make something really great,” she said.

For the next two days, the group split up into members of “nationalist” and “federalist” political parties. They formed a House of Representatives and a Senate and had a governor, who was elected.

Chavez, a member of the House of Representatives, said that it could be difficult to pass a law because each law agreed upon by the House had to move to the Senate. If the Senate made changes to the law, then it went back to the House for approval a second time.

“We realized the process of how to pass a law,” she said.

The program is not only a process of learning, Chavez said, but a chance to get to know other young women and to have fun. For example, the groups worked on songs and dances to perform for the whole group. They also heard presentations from guest speakers that inspired and instructed them in building their lives as they move toward high school graduation.

Chavez said that the program helped her to understand for the first time how government works. This is important to her as she will soon be able to register to vote. It also helped her to develop her leadership skills and to become better at interacting with people she has never met before.