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University Relations

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June 1, 2006
Contact: Missi Schoen, Sunflower Girls State, (785) 760-3477.

About 400 high school seniors expected for Sunflower Girls State held June 4-9 at KU

LAWRENCE — About 400 high school seniors-to-be from throughout Kansas are expected for the 64th annual American Legion Auxiliary Kansas Sunflower Girls State, June 4 through 9 at the University of Kansas, according to the event coordinators. The opening assembly will be 7:10 p.m. Sunday, June 4, in the Lied Center.

Delegates, sponsored by their local American Legion Auxiliary units, will focus on a weeklong study of government at all levels and national patriotic traditions. Most sessions will be at the Lied Center and the Dole Institute of Politics at KU. Flag-raising ceremonies will be at 8 a.m. June 5-9 at the Dole Institute and flag retreats will be between 6:50 and 7:10 p.m. daily June 4-9.

Marlesa Roney, KU vice provost for student success, will speak at the opening assembly. Rebecca Sullivan of Paola, 2005 Sunflower Girls State governor, and Janet Threlfall of Girard, Sunflower Girls State lieutenant governor, will share duties presiding at the sessions. Claudia Satterlee of Winfield, is director of Sunflower Girls State, and Anne Werner of Axtell, is assistant director.

During the week, delegates will campaign for state and county offices and hold general elections for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state treasurer, commissioner of insurance and seven Supreme Court justice positions. Ron Thornburgh, secretary of state, will speak at inaugural ceremonies at 7:30 p.m. June 8 at the Lied Center.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to address the group during a morning visit June 9 to the state Capitol in Topeka, when delegates also will be able to meet with other state officials at various Capitol Complex locations in Topeka. After returning to Lawrence later that day, participants will conclude Sunflower Girls State with an awards assembly at 3 p.m. at the Lied Center. At that time, scholarship winners and names of Kansas delegates to 2006 Girls Nation July 22-29 in Washington, D.C., will be announced.

During the week, Girls Staters also expect to hear talks by Judge G. Joseph Pierron, Kansas Court of Appeals, Lawrence; state Rep. Barbara Ballard, associate director of the Dole Institute of Politics, Lawrence; state Rep. Patricia Kilpatrick, Overland Park; Sandy Praeger, Kansas commissioner of insurance, Lawrence; and Norma Swanson, Gardner, president of the Kansas Department of the American Legion Auxiliary. Throughout the week, participants will be able 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,” an optional 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 will also speak to all delegates at 7 p.m. June 5 during the evening assembly program.

In addition to Satterlee and Werner, 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 take meals at Ekdahl Dining Commons, known on campus as “Mrs. E’s,” atop Daisy Hill, which offers a three-story panoramic hillside view eastward overlooking Mount Oread, on which KU is located.

Sunflower Girls State has been offered through the American Legion Auxiliary since its inception in 1939 at Washburn University in Topeka. The program moved in 1941 to KU, where it has been every year since except 1943 to 1946 because of World War II.

To be eligible to attend Sunflower Girls State, delegates must be U.S. citizens, not necessarily Kansas residents, and be sponsored by an American Legion Auxiliary unit in Kansas that pays $200 per delegate.


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