History of ALAGMGS
A HISTORY OF AMERICAN LEGION AUXILIARY GREEN MOUNTAIN GIRLS STATE
American Legion Auxiliary Girls State was organized as a National Americanism activity by the 1937 Convention of the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA). Following this national action, the Department of Vermont held a meeting to organize a Girls state on August 22, 1940. Mrs. Irene Crowley, of Rutland, was elected the first Director of the 1941 Girls State session. It was held at Vermont Junior College in Montpelier from June 15 to June 22, 1941, a seven-day session. It was certainly a natural step when deciding upon a name for Girls State that the organizers would choose Green Mountain Girls State. (Herein referred to as ALAGMGS). At some point, nearly all High Schools in the state have sent delegates to assure the success of the program.
ALAGMGS consists of parties: Federalists and Nationalist, and sometimes Independents. Two counties are formed and named for Past National Presidents and the towns at ALAGMGS are named after Past Department Presidents of Vermont, both in line of succession of the year the presided.
The immediate past governor of ALAGMGS is present for the inaugural ceremony and for the reception which follows. The Department President of the ALA is the official hostess for the reception which is given in honor of the new officers. From the money left in the Alumni Fund, a Girls State Flag was purchased in 1949. Past Department President Philippa Maloney presented ALAGMGS, Inc., with a new all-weather Vermont Flag in 1996. In 1997 Past Department President Pat Petty was responsible for ALAGMGS, Inc., receiving a new Girls State flag and a new American flag.
In 1947, the first session of Girls Nation was held. Vermont sent two delegates and has been doing the same each year since. Two of our ALAGMGS citizens were candidates for office at Girls Nation in 1954 and 1955, one for President and one for Vice President. In 2010 ALAGMGS had a candidate for President. In 2012 one of our ALAGMGS citizens was elected President Pro Tempore. Girls Nation connects participants with their peers from all over the country. Girls Nation Senators leave session with leadership lessons for life and an understanding the fundamentals of the US Government, along with rights, privileges, and responsibilities of citizens.
One of Vermont’s Past Department Presidents also served on the National Committee that planned and organized Girls Nation, taking with their many ideas from the successful sessions which have been held here. Several Past Department Presidents have served on the Girls Nation National Committee over the past several years.
The session for ALAGMGS was shortened to six days in 1947, as it was felt that the program could be thoroughly covered within this period. ALAGMGS sessions were held at Vermont College in Montpelier, Vermont from 1941-1974; Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont from 1975-1978; Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vermont in 1979 and 1980 and returned to Vermont College from 1981-1994. The 1995 session was held at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center, Vermont and the 1996 session was held at Bolton Valley Resort in Bolton, Vermont. ALAGMGS returned to Vermont College for the years of 1997 and 1998. Johnson State College was the site of the ALAGMGS from 1999-2003. Then we moved to Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont for the 2004-2007 sessions. No session was held in 2008, this being the only year besides two during WWII when no ALAGMGS session was held due to gas restrictions. In 2009 and 2010 we returned to Castleton State College. In 2011 due to Hurricane Irene causing so much devastation to the roads in Vermont we moved closer to Montpelier and returned to Vermont Technical College. Over 12,000 delegates have had the privilege of attending ALAGMGS, Inc. From 2012 to 2019 Girls State session was held at the Vermont Technical College, Randolph location.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 session could not be held in person. Instead, a weeklong series of online panels was available over video conference, and delegates were invited to return for the next year. 2021 session made history being held entirely online. Delegates logged on daily to participated, listened, and interacted with guest speakers, campaigned using social media groups, and voted using online resources. The adaptation and resilience of this program by both attendees and staff speaks volumes of its capabilities and is a shining example of the American Legion Auxiliary and its commitment to the future of our youth.
Many Vermont American Legion Auxiliary members have served as counselors, office and canteen workers, nurses, music directors, committee members, speakers, and directors. ALA Unit members have searched for, interviewed, and raised funds to send candidates to ALAGMGS. Experience has proven that good, democratic government depends on an enlightened citizenship. To this end, the ALAGMGS has been set up by the American Legion Auxiliary of the Department of Vermont. Its purpose is to provide thorough, practical experience and understanding of the structure of our State, County and Town governments and to develop within these young leaders a sense of responsibilities as political citizens.
The ALAGMGS is a laboratory in practical government. By each delegate having a definite and integral part in the function of ALAGMGS; they will learn that Government of the United States is just what the citizens make of it.
In the United States of America, we continue to have the right to disagree on government policies, and citizens of similar opinions join the party which they believe expresses their ideas and opinion. A mythical state comes into being known as the American Legion Auxiliary Green Mountain Girls State.
At ALAGMGS, two imaginary political parties are chosen, and each delegate becomes a member of the party and performs regular duties according to the laws of the State of Vermont. Then elections are held and each party tries to elect the candidates of their party to office. When these candidates are elected, they are expected to carry out the promises made by the party in the campaign. We are emphasizing this party system, since it is one of the major differences between a democracy and a dictatorship. One of the first lessons learned about democratic citizenship is the right of each citizen to have opinions, to have the right to express these opinions and to join with others of those opinions in the effort to establish the policies of government.
Good citizens learn how to listen to opposing points of view and then make up their own minds in the issues discussed. Political parties are instruments of democracy and citizens learn how to participate as party members according to the democratic laws of the state.
Another important function is to select the party candidates with great care and keen intelligence. Remember that when an election ends, the successful candidates will manage your government until the next election. Citizens in a democracy elect by popular vote the administrators and the legislators.