Southern Utah students win top leadership roles at Utah Girls State

Picture of a computer screen showing participants in a "Matheson City" online meeting during Utah Girls State, June 7-11, 2021 | Image courtesy of Judy Oar, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — At the recently completed American Legion Auxiliary’s Utah Girls State program, Ruby Ludlow of Dixie High School was elected governor and Ava Graff of Desert Hills High School was elected lieutenant governor.

Utah Girls State participants prepare to film an online streaming session, location not specified, June 2021 | Photo courtesy of Judy Oar, St. George News

The pair ran under the Federalist Party ticket during Utah’s statewide five-day conference, which was held online last month.

Like the other 215 Utah Girls State participants, Ludlow and Graff just completed their junior year of high school and will be seniors starting this fall. They both also happen to be the newly elected student body presidents of their respective schools. 

They were part of a contingent of six Southern Utah students selected to participate this year, said Judy Oar of St. George, who served as chairman of the American Legion Auxiliary’s local selection committee.

“This well-respected, annual 74-year-old national program is conducted in every state and is designed to teach girls going into their senior year how our government works by actually doing it,” Oar told St. George News. 

“These girls set up cities, counties and state government, campaigning for office, electing mayors, city councilors, county and state officials, as well as conducting judicial business, including how to write bills, debate mock issues and conduct mock trials, all facilitated by actual officeholders,” Oar added.

The program also emphasizes proper care of the flag, patriotism, respect and appreciation for veterans and responsible citizenship.

I am passionate about creating positive change and believe  that women are an integral part of that,” Ludlow wrote in an Instagram post after her gubernatorial election victory. “I have loved my experience at Girls State and can’t wait to help other strong young women find and share their voices.”

The other four members of Southern Utah’s Girls State contingent were Olivia Jenkins and Erin Gunn of Snow Canyon, Ariana Catardi of Dixie and Raquel Griffin of St. George Academy. Jenkins and Griffin each won mayoral elections, while Gunn won her race for House representative, Oar said.

Ava Graff of Desert Hills High School appears in an election campaign promotion for Utah Girls State, conducted online June 7-11, 2021 | Image courtesy of Ava Graff, St. George News

Additionally, Graff was named the winner of a $1,250 Samsung scholarship during the conference. She also was named an alternate to attend the American Legion Girls Nation, a weeklong program scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C. at the end of July.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 Utah Girls State program and had prompted the 2021 event to be held virtually, Utah Girls State is expected to return as an in-person event next June at its traditional home, the Weber State University campus in Ogden, Oar said.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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