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Five Fitch girls attend Girls State

July 3, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

The Buckeye Girls State Program at Mount Union College in Alliance took place June 10 through June 16. The event gave girls from all over Ohio an opportunity to learn about government, how it operates, and at the same time helps them develop leadership skills while meeting new friends.

Austintown Fitch students Elise Yantes, Taylor Baer, Faith Marscio, Kaitlyn Sciortino, and Lauren Akuszewski were among this year's group of girls who made the trip to Mount Union. They were sponsored by the Canfield American Legion Post 177 Auxiliary. Presidnt of the Auxiliary, Cathy Gagliardi, explained why the Austintown girls were sponsored.

"We planned to send nine excellent Canfield delegates, who were interviewed, selected and committed to attend Buckeye Girls State (BGS)," she said, "But as the time drew nearer, six contacted us at varied times with the news they were not being able to attend. One made the National Speech competition which was held near the same time; one had a death in the family and had to go out of state; and the remainder had family commitments arise."

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Austintown Fitch students Elise Yantes, Taylor Baer, Faith Marscio, Kaitlyn Sciortino, and Lauren Akuszewski got the opportunity of their lives when they attended Buckeye Girls State in June. The annual event gives girls an opportunity to learn about government by being a part of a government model.

She said earlier in the year, each auxiliary unit must purchase the applications for delegates in advance.

"Instead of limiting the number of Canfield Delegates, we elected to send them all and thus had no Canfield alternates to make up the difference when they could not attend," Gagliardi said. "The applications were already purchased, so contact was then made with an Austintown Fitch High School guidance counselor. We learned there were gals who really wanted to attend BGS, but needed a sponsor. We interviewed each of the girls, who presented with excellent qualifications, so we decided to share this opportunity and it turned out to be quite a success."

At Buckeye Girls State, girls run for office on a federal, state, and local level. They have one week to run a working government as they learn the ropes and make new friends.

One of the Austintown delegates was Elise Yantes, who had friends going and found the program to be very interesting. She wants to major in biochemistry and pre-med after graduation from Fitch. At BGS she took the role of city auditor for what her group called Taft City.

"The biggest thing I took away from this experience was the friendships I created," she said. "We felt like a group of best friends only a few days after meeting each other. It was really sad to leave all of them."

She said BGS has affected her future by making her a much more confident person. She picked up new people skills that she said she can use the rest of her life. The friendships developed during that week could also last as long.

"I have not stopped talking to the girls I met at Girls State," Yantes said. "My city has a Snapchat group chat that we haven't stopped talking in since we left."

Faith Marscio Also has not stopped communicating with her made-up city of friends. She had the task of running for office, which involves campaigning and she was finally elected as the city's law director.

"I wanted to go for the amazing opportunities and potential scholarships," she said. "I learned a lot about the work involved with being a lawyer. I also got to go through mock trial cases. I believe it will help me as I intend to be a lawyer in the future. Now I know more about what the job entails."

Marsico plans to pursue a political science-national security degree, then attend law school after.

Lauren Akuszewski was another Fitch student who wanted to attend, but with a different perspective than most.

"I wanted to go to Girls State for many reasons," she said "Both of my parents work for the government so I have always been interested in how the government operates, especially the judicial system, and my brother went to Boys State and is now a cadet at West Point, so I really enjoy the military appreciation at Girls State."

At Girls State, Akuszewski was appointed to the position of City Health Director. She became more comfortable with public speaking at Girls State, and also learned about how elections are run as well as how laws are passed in Ohio.

"This experience has greatly affected my future," she said. "It made me consider a different career path. I was planning on going to college for psychology but I think I will now pursue a career in law."

Like the others Akuszewski has stayed in touch with the new friends she formed at BGS.

"I have been in contact every day with four girls I met at Girls State," she said. "We had so much fun and became such good friends in a short time."

Baer and Sciortino were unavailable for comment, but experienced similar results from attending BGS.



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