Students see success at Girls State

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

High School students choose from many summer opportunities and obligations—especially as they prepare to begin senior year. PHS junior and senior counselor Laura Cochran does a thorough job of prepping students to use their pre-senior year summer wisely encouraging college visits.

PHS Alabama Girls State Delegates Lily Cone, Luci Smitherman and Addison Fuller are dressed up for the inaugural ball celebrating the election of Girls State Electees. (Contributed)

While many students make college visits during the summer, a few are invited to spend several days on college campuses to participate in leadership programs such as the American Legion Auxiliary Alabama Girls State gathering hosted by the University of Alabama each June.

Girls nominated by their teachers and counselors from Alabama high schools gather on campus, dividing into communities, and eventually forming their own Girls State government. Before the week is out, the girls learn details of running elections, campaigning and creating legislation.

Pelham High School’s three delegates at Alabama Girls State this year were Lily Cone, Addison Fuller and Luci Smitherman. My daughter, a Girls State alum, reminded me that Girls State was in session and we realized together that the woman who had spoken about the need for women in state and local government at last year’s ceremonies was now Alabama’s Gov. Kay Ivey.

Once delegates arrive and the program is underway, these young women immerse themselves to take in new knowledge and fascinating people. As the week closed, I received a wonderful emailed update from Luci Smitherman.

Smitherman wrote, “Pelham girls did a tremendous job at Girls State this week. Lily and I won state positions, and Addison passed her own bill. All three of us delivered speeches to the House of Representatives, the Senate, our parties and to all of the delegates.”

Quoting former Alabama Teacher-of-the-Year, Ann Marie Corgill’s words that, “Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story,” Smitherman made this English teacher’s day.

“Addressing all 350 delegates yesterday, I stood more confidently, because I knew that my speech was sprinkled with Nolen argumentation magic,” Smitherman said as she expressed her gratitude. “Most of all, thank you for helping me to become more fearless this year.”

PHS women are fearless, successful and inspiring. Pelham is blessed.