Elections, award presentations highlight Girls State at USD

The 64th annual session of Girls State at The University of South Dakota concluded recently with the election of officers and presentation of awards.

Under the direction of Cheryl Hovorka, the South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary Girls State featured 445 girls, entering their senior year of high school, selected from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government.

At the closing assembly in the Muenster University Center Ballroom on June 5, Erin Williams of Watertown, was elected Girls State Governor and Kjerstin Cosand of Sioux Falls Washington High School, was elected Lt. Governor. Additional elections included: Megan Shumaker of Humbolt, Attorney General; Megan Raposa of Rapid City, Secretary of State; Rachel Weinandt of Yankton, State Auditor; Allison Duffy of Winner, State Treasurer; Rebecca Clausen of Sturgis, Commissioner of School and Public Lands. Elected as members of the Public Utilities Commission were Sarah Olson of Sioux Falls, Emma Larson of Stockholm and Lindsey Evans of Rapid City.

In non-political elections, Girls State delegates elected Jenaye Brenner of Bristol, Morgan Kleinsasser of Huron, Kelsi Bell of Clark, Hannah Gacke of Sioux Falls, Leah Nielson of Rapid City, and Chelsea Gustafson of Sioux Falls as six justices to serve on the Supreme Court. Jenna LaMee of Andover was elected as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Alayna Ackerman of Rapid City was chosen as the Speaker of the House of Representatives while Brenna Rausch of Big Stone City was selected as the Nationalist Party Chair and Claire Stone of Watertown as the Nationalist Party Keynote Speaker. The Federalist Party elected Kira Stammer of Sioux Falls as party chair and Kelsey Kimbler of Sioux Falls as keynote speaker. Samantha Kohnen of Dell Rapids was recipient of the Outstanding Journalist award and Kathryn Blumhardt of Rapid City received the Highest Exam Score. Sarah Witcraft of Rapid City captured Outstanding Speaker honors and Julianna Diddle of Brookings was selected as the Outstanding Girls State Citizen.

Awards were also presented to Meg Townsend of Sioux Falls, Best Circuit Court Judge; Breanna Helland of Frederick, Best Prosecuting Attorney; Olivia Hopewell of Yankton, Best Defense Attorney; Hayley Hardie of Watertown, Best Appellant Attorney; Maddie Howey of Watertown, Best Appellee Attorney; Kae Januschka of Sioux Falls, Outstanding Forensic Investigator; Mackenzie Holm of Sioux Falls, President of Citizen Forum; and Shelby Eschenbaum of Faulkton received the Vice President Citizen Forum award.

Hannah Gacke of Sioux Falls and Andrea Paulson of Garden City were chosen as delegates to represent South Dakota at The American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation in Washington, D.C. (Tess Wentworth of Stickney and Rachel Massopust of Rapid City are alternates) Mackenzi Rogers of Sturgis was selected as the 2010 recipient of a $1,000 Samsung American Legion Scholarship while Autumn Simunek of Hot Springs was awarded the Bonnie Slade Memorial Scholarship and Jerrica Huber of Yankton received the Travis Memorial Scholarship. Notable speakers throughout the week included United States Sen. John Thune, (R-S.D.), Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, (D-S.D.), Public Utilities Commissioner Dustin Johnson, State Sen. Jean Hunhoff of Yankton and Gov. Mike Rounds.

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