Thursday, August 30, 2012
Girls Preparatory School senior Emma McCallie’s U.S. government class this fall will have extra meaning for the North Chattanooga resident. She is returning to GPS after a summer packed with politics.
McCallie was chosen to attend Tennessee Girls State in June. The program teaches how U.S. government works while developing leadership skills through mock elections and legislative sessions as well as an appreciation for one’s rights as a U.S. citizen. While there she was selected as one of two Tennessee students to participate in the more in-depth Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., in late July. Nashville’s Charlene Hong was also selected to attend.
“I’ve learned how government works through Girls Nation,” said McCallie.
She and Hong were both named Girls Nation senators. McCallie served as a party delegate in the Nationalist Party, a chairwoman of the Rules and Conventions Committee and the secretary of education at Girls Nation.
“It was really a great experience,” she said. “In the classroom I feel more confident talking about politics now knowing as a 17-year-old my beliefs are my own. And I have friends in every state now.”
While participating in Girls Nation McCallie learned how to draft a bill. She and Hong wrote a bill to create a healthy food rebate for people using EBT credit food stamps. The reason is they would like people using food stamps to be able to afford to purchase healthy foods too.
“At GPS teachers do a good job of asking students to look at every possible solution to a problem,” said McCallie. “Because of that I did not just look at one-half of the picture at Girls Nation.”
She said she has plans to go into education as either a teacher or administrator after college. But through Girls Nation she realized she is also interested in political science and foreign relations.
“It was neat to see people patriotic about the direction of our country,” said McCallie, who got to meet with Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander as well as President Barrack Obama. Girls Nation members sang “Happy Birthday” to the U.S. president.
Based on her experience, McCallie said she would like to become a junior member of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, which sponsors both Girls State and Girls Nation. Through her participation in the programs she said she realized all the great work the auxiliary does for veterans in the United States.
“I had never seen so much love for veterans,” said McCallie. “I want to contribute to that and pay back too. At Girls Nation we visited a VA hospital and shared a meal with veterans.”