For the 60th anniversary observance, the week is being dedicated to military personnel with ties to South Dakota and who have died in Iraq and Kuwait.
A special military tribute will be held at the opening assembly on Monday evening with SFC Shane Toupal of the 147th Field Artillery, Charlie Battery of Yankton as the speaker.
The Girls State program is designed to teach female high school juniors about civic participation. The South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary has selected participants from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government. These girls will be divided into cities and counties, in which they will be able to run for mythical office. In addition, a portion of the girls will make up "Journalism City," which publishes a daily newspaper utilizing the facilities at the Al Neuharth Media Center, under the direction of Jack Marsh, director of the Freedom Forum.
Throughout the program, participants will learn how American government works at every level. The girls will have the opportunity to learn from several South Dakota political figures, including South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, U.S. Senator John Thune, U.S. Representative and 1988 Girls State Governor Stephanie Herseth, State Senator Benjamin Nesselhuff of Vermillion, and State Representative Jean Hunhoff from Yankton.
Emily Firman Pieper, 1994 Girls State Governor, Flandreau, will address the girls at the Tuesday morning assembly and Josette Boesch Lindahl, 1977 Girls State Governor from Vermillion, will be the inauguration speaker on Friday evening.
Steve Feimer of the Department of Political Science at USD and Sheriff Andy Howe will also perform a crime scene investigation demonstration during the Tuesday evening assembly. Many state, county and municipal officials are also volunteering their time to serve as mentors for various parts of the week-long program.