NHS se­nior at­tends Amer­i­can Le­gion Aux­il­iary Girls Na­tion

The Covington News - - Education - STAFF RE­PORTS news@cov­news.com

While many of her fel­low class­mates were re­lax­ing and en­joy­ing their short sum­mer va­ca­tions, New­ton High School se­nior Imari Daniels was busy study­ing the in­ner work­ings of both the state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment. Daniels par­tic­i­pated in the an­nual Ge­or­gia Girls State and was later one of only 98 young women in the na­tion se­lected to par­tic­i­pate in the pres­ti­gious Amer­i­can Le­gion Aux­il­iary Girls Na­tion in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Daniels ded­i­cated two weeks of her sum­mer to the study of lo­cal, state and na­tional gov­ern­ment and in the process, met some of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in the na­tion, in­clud­ing Sen­a­tors Saxby Cham­b­liss and Johnny Isak­son and even Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

“I did cry when I met him,” Daniels said of meet­ing the pres­i­dent. “It was so sur­real and ex­cit­ing. I had to pull it to­gether — I did not want to mess it up. I mean, how many times do you get to meet the pres­i­dent? I made sure I told him my mom said ‘Hi’ from Ge­or­gia. He saw that I had been tear­ing up a lit­tle bit so he gave me a hug. He shook our hands and talked about the pro­gram and told us he was proud of us. We even got to watch Marine One take off from the White House lawn.”

In or­der to par­tic­i­pate in Girls Nations, Daniels had to first be se­lected for the lo­cal Girls State pro­gram.

Daniels met all the cri­te­ria and was se­lected by the lo­cal Amer­i­can Le­gion Aux­il­iary to at­tend June 10 through June 15.

At Girls State, the “cit­i­zens” study lo­cal, county and state gov­ern­men­tal process.

On ar­rival at Girls State, the cit­i­zens are di­vided into two po­lit­i­cal par­ties to al­low them to gain a spe­cial knowl­edge of how a two-party sys­tem op­er­ates.

“We had to de­cide at the be­gin­ning what of­fice we wanted to run for,” said Daniels. “I’m def­i­nitely a per­son who is ‘go big or go home’ so I knew from the be­gin­ning I wanted the U.S. Se­nate po­si­tion be­cause that meant the op­por­tu­nity to go to Girls Na­tion in (Wash­ing­ton) D.C. for the week. It was very in­tim­i­dat­ing be­cause you are there with the top girls in Ge­or­gia.”

Daniels was nom­i­nated by her party and later cho­sen by staff as one of two sen­a­tors out of the more than 300 girls to rep­re­sent Ge­or­gia in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal.

Daniels spent the week of July 21 in Chevy Chase, Md., par­tic­i­pat­ing in mock se­nate ses­sions com­plete with cau­cus­ing and de­bat­ing of bills.

“At Girls Nations, we had to write a bill be­fore we got there and one of the high­lights for me was that mine was one of the few bills that passed,” said Daniels.

“We’d lit­er­ally be at lunch de­bat­ing is­sues. The girls there were very knowl­edge- able and very charis­matic. Their val­ues make them who they are and I found that there were a lot of girls who hadn’t been ex­posed to a lot — some had never even been north of their home­town. I just made sure I stayed true to my val­ues. I had to re­mem­ber that we are all from dif­fer­ent places and peo­ple have their own views on a lot of things. I think one of my big­gest things was not get­ting dis­cour­aged there. I had to lis­ten and un­der­stand why they thought that way and help come to a con­sen­sus and find com­mon ground. At the end of the day you can re­ally get into a heated de­bate and some­times you have to agree to dis­agree. ”

Daniels said she will never for­get her ex­pe­ri­ence at Girls Na­tion and would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend other girls par­tic­i­pate in the Girls State and Girls Na­tion pro­grams.

“You are with peo­ple who are just like you; they are just from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try. It’s a great ex­pe­ri­ence and builds con­fi­dence and ex­poses you to a lot,” said Daniels. “We woke up at 6 a.m. with flag rais­ing and the days were packed. I came home and slept for 17 hours. You ba­si­cally are run­ning on adren­a­line the whole time you are there. I met some amaz­ing peo­ple while I was there. These are peo­ple who I prom­ise you will be the next some­thing — the next first lady, the next se­na­tor. All the peo­ple I met there are go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in some way. I made life­long friends from all over the coun­try. You re­ally have a friend in ev­ery state.”

Now that Daniels is back home and back in school, she’s just as busy. In ad­di­tion to the four AP classes she’s tak­ing as a stu­dent in the Academy of Lib­eral Arts at New­ton High School, Daniels also serves as pres­i­dent of DECA and the Beta Club. She’s also chair­per­son of the Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety and cap­tain of the school vol­ley­ball team. De­spite the heavy sched­ule of aca­demic and ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, Daniels is in the top 10 per­cent of her class at New­ton High School.

“Imari Daniels is a bril­liant young lady and a nat­u­ral leader,” said Craig Lock­hart, prin­ci­pal of New­ton High School. “She is a mem­ber of the Academy of Lib­eral Arts, and she ex­cels in her stud­ies and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. Imari is a model stu­dent, and we are so proud of her ac­com­plish­ments. She will go far in life.”

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