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University Relations

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June 3, 2005
Contact: Missi Schoen, Sunflower Girls State director of publications, (785) 760-3477.

About 430 high school seniors expected for Girls State June 5-10 at KU

LAWRENCE -- About 430 high school seniors-to-be from throughout Kansas are expected to attend the 63rd annual American Legion Auxiliary Kansas Sunflower Girls State, June 5 through 10 at the University of Kansas, according to the event coordinators.

Delegates, sponsored by their local American Legion auxiliary units, will participate in a weeklong study of Kansas government that concludes with an awards ceremony at the Lied Center at KU. Most sessions will be at the Lied Center and the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at KU, but they will include a trip June 10 to the state Capitol in Topeka for meetings with Kansas state officials.

Participants will hear talks by Mary Feighny, assistant attorney general; Ron Thornburgh, secretary of state; Sandy Praeger, insurance commissioner; Lynn Jenkins, state treasurer; Judge G. Joseph Pierron, Kansas Court of Appeals, Lawrence; state Rep. Barbara Ballard, Lawrence, associate director of the Dole Institute; state Rep. Patricia Kilpatrick, Overland Park; and Marlesa Roney, KU vice provost for student success. Beulah Shafer, Winfield, president of the Kansas Department of the American Legion Auxiliary, and Ernie Cooper, Olathe, commander of the Kansas Department of the American Legion, also will address the group. Delegates will have opportunities to meet with other state, county and city officials, including their home-district senators and representatives.

In conjunction with Sunflower Girls State, Mary Christine Banwart, KU assistant professor of communication studies, will teach "Women in Politics," a one-hour credit course coordinated by KU Continuing Education. Through readings and discussion, delegates will explore what prompts women to run for office; their leadership styles, strategies and characteristics; campaign advertising and debate topics; a historical overview of women in office; issues they champion; and barriers they may face as leaders in the public realm. Banwart also will speak to all delegates at a June 6 evening assembly.

During the week, delegates will campaign and hold general elections for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state treasurer, commissioner of insurance and seven supreme court justice positions. They will hold an inaugural ceremony June 9 at the Lied Center.

Heidi Blair, Wathena, is the 2005 director of Sunflower Girls State. A volunteer staff of about 50 American Legion Auxiliary members and Sunflower Girls State alumnae assists during the week. Participants and volunteer staff will stay in Ellsworth Residence Hall at KU and will eat meals at Ekdahl Dining Commons, known on campus as "Mrs. E's," which offers a three-story panoramic hillside view overlooking Mount Oread, on which KU is located.

Rachel Beck, Leawood, 2004 Sunflower Girls State governor, and Alpa Baker, Junction City, 2004 Sunflower Girls State lieutenant governor, will share duties presiding at the 2005 sessions.

Sunflower Girls State has been offered through the American Legion Auxiliary since its inception in 1939. No sessions took place from 1943 to 1946 because of World War II.


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