Smith attends Girls State
By Matt Wilson
For the FCT
Anna Catherine Smith, an incoming senior at Russellville High School, participated in the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program June 8-13 on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Being nominated for the program is a prestigious honor, and Smith said her eyes were opened to how many students in the state of Alabama are exceptional students and how serious some of them can get.
“I knew going into it that we were going to be splitting up into cities and form these mock governments and learn how government functions,” Smith said.
“And I knew that we were going to campaign for different positions, but I didn’t know how serious some of the students were going to take the campaigns.
“The students from South Alabama were really serious about their campaigns. They brought professional campaign materials and had parties before they came to Girls State where they decided their allegiances and who would run for what.”
Despite the competitive nature of the program, Smith said she did get close to the other students during her time at Girls State.
“I talked to some people before I went down there and they told me the program was intense,” Smith said.
“We did get close, though, and I was honored to be among these girls. They are truly the best of the best.”
Spending that time around the best of the best helped Smith learn some valuable lessons along the way.
“If anything I learned to be over prepared,” Smith said. “I also got to see what other schools around the state thought a leader was.
“We also got to write and debate and vote on bills. We definitely didn’t shy away from some of the more pressing issues of today—abortion, marijuana, and gay rights were just some of the topics we discussed.”
Smith said it was different not having a male point of view during her time at Girls State.
“Not having a male point of view was kind of weird, especially when we were discussing all of these heavy issues,” Smith said.
“It was almost refreshing to have both points of views when I got to attend the Governor’s School after Girls State.”
Smith said her experience overall at Girls State was “really intense” and she was glad she was able to be a part of it.
“It made me inspired to do what I know I can,” Smith said.
“These were the best girls in the state and I realized they were not much different than me. It made me want to see what I can achieve.”
Smith said being nominated by the Russellville High School faculty and being able to attend and be a part of Girls State was an honor.
“I was glad I was able to be a part of this—the whole experience—and learn what I did and meet all of the girls who are really high-achieving students with bright futures,” Smith said.
Smith said the speakers that were brought in to talk to the girls were high caliber and she enjoyed hearing what they had to say as well.
“I really enjoyed the speakers that came in and gave us advice and insight,” Smith said.
“I especially enjoyed the graduate from West Point (Military Academy). She was inspiring to me.”
That speaker from West Point was so inspiring to Smith that she has decided to apply to the West Point Military Academy in West Point, New York in the fall.
Smith is the daughter of Mike and Stephanie Mayfield and Tim and Debbie Smith.