HORNELL – The 2021 session of the American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girls State program, held virtually from June 27 to July 3, featured a pair of Hornell natives.
Empire Girls State is a one-week hands-on educational workshop focusing on Americanism and the political process sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary of New York State. The aim of the program is to help students better understand democratic ideals and the role we, as individuals, play in realizing those ideals. This program, which has been accredited by the National College Credit Recommendation Service (National CCRS) is a non-partisan attempt to teach high school girls about government, politics and Americanism.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit Arthur H. Cunningham of Hornell was proud to recommend Kaylynn Hancock and Jane Spitulnik of Hornell High School in the 2021 session. Both girls participated and successfully completed the program.
Kaylynn is the daughter of Chad and Christina Hancock from Hornell. She has been a member of the Hornell Marching Band since Grade 7 and is honored to be the 2021-2022 Drum Major! She is a member of the National Honor Society and takes several dance lessons at Revolution Dance Studios. She is also an active Junior Member of the American Legion Auxiliary, currently Honorary Junior President of the 7th District of Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates Counties and Honorary Junior Secretary of the New York Department. She especially enjoys working on projects that benefit our veterans as a junior member.
Jane is the daughter of Dan and Vanessa Spitulnik from Hornell. She participates in soccer, basketball and track and field at Hornell High School. She was a member of the 2020 Sectional Soccer Champions team. She is a member of the National Honor Society, President of the Class of 2022, Vice President of Student Government and Senior Editor of the 2022 edition of the Maple Leaf Book Yearbook. She also works at the Hornell Golf Club and the Pit Stop.
Qualified high school students are selected to become citizens and participate in the creation of a mythical 51st state, from county to state. This mythical 51st state is divided into 11 counties, each named after famous women, and the citizens, assigned to either the nationalist party or the federalist party, experiment with the two-party system, much like our government. Their rigorous schedule includes participation in political campaigns, debates and drafting of bills. As government begins to take shape, these young women come to understand their role in a democratic society.
During their Empire Girls State program week, these students, under the guidance of the President of Americanism, also learned flag etiquette, flag-raising or raising ceremonies, and the POW-MIA ceremony. Citizens also received information from the Department (State) President on some of the programs that are important components of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Applicants must be juniors in high school, with the intention of returning to school for the senior year. Students in public, private, parochial, and home schooling programs in New York State are eligible. Students should be in the top third of their class. Academic performance, leadership, character, honesty and physical fitness are taken into consideration. Girls are selected by local American Legion auxiliary units who work with their respective high schools through an interview process.
Plans are underway for the Empire Girls State 2022 session to be held on the beautiful campus of the College of Brockport, which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.