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Pokorny gains understanding of government at Girls State

August 12, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama High School was represented at Girls State at Drake University July 16 through July 23 by two students entering their senior years: Sabryna Rigel and DaLynn Pokorny. The Traer Star-Clipper interviewed both girls for a two-part series, concentrating on their experiences at Girls State. With Sabryna Rigel focused on last week, this week's issue feature DaLynn Pokorny who was nominated by the Clutier American Legion Auxiliary.

Accepting an invitation to apply alongside her fellow classmates, Pokorny wrote a short essay explaining her interest in attending Girls State. The opportunity would be paid for by the Clutier Auxiliary, who select the recipient of the funds.

"I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn more about our government, but also develop a deeper connection as a citizen," Pokorny said.

Article Photos

DaLynn Pokorny (second from right) with her three roommates. Photo submitted.

Girls State is run by the American Legion Auxiliary here in Iowa and is a "great experience to learn about how city government works as far as elections." Much like their Traer counterpart, the Clutier Auxiliary sent letters out to girls in their junior year of high school. Bev Colvin oversaw the invitations and a committee selected Pokorny for Girls State based off her essay.

"DaLynn was chosen to attend the Iowa Girls State based on her interests, her leadership skills, and her scholastic qualities," Colvin said. "The week is filled with powerful experiences that help shape their future as citizens and leaders."

Those selected spend a week at Drake University with 200 girls who explore many different avenues of government. From July 16-23, Pokorny joined her peers in Des Moines, forming "towns" with a group she'd grow close to over the week. A House of Representatives and Senate were also formed. The group learned how essential government is in daily life and just how complex it can be.

"I was really excited to go, but a little nervous to go for a whole week," Pokorny said. "It was different to be surrounded by all these girls I didn't know. It definitely was stepping outside of my comfort zone."

Within her city group of 50 girls, they oversaw several towns and two counties, with each members appointed a position. The girls could run for mayor or other officials, including election official that Pokorny would serve. She would count votes for elections at the local and state levels. She also served as a health official.

"There were a lot of things I didn't know before, including how city elections affect state or county elections," Pokorny said. "It's very important to vote in elections at different levels, not just federal elections. I got to see a little how things work behind the scenes."

Over time, Pokorny grew closer to her roommates from Le Mars and Oskaloosa to learn more about other parts of Iowa. They toured the Capitol building on the third day of Girls State and learned the history of the building.

"It was fun to get to know the girls in my city to break it down on a more personal level," Pokorny said.

As the week wound down, Pokorny and her fellow Girls State heard from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds about campaigning as they also campaigned for their own towns. Running for office and their Inauguration for Governor were among the last events of Girls State. The week also covered topics on a national level as well, learning more about the differences between Nationalism and Federalism on the fourth day and took part in elections for their groups. Each town presented plans for their towns to their House of Representatives and Senate.

"I learned a lot of leadership skills I want to take to be more involved in government," Pokorny said. "There's so much you need to learn an individual before making an impact in a group. A single vote can make all the difference. We had several elections decided by one vote."

At the very beginning of Girls State, attendees were told the bonds they formed over the course of the week would be ones they remembered for years, and tears were a normal occurrence during the final day. Indeed for Pokornyl's group, there were hard goodbyes said as they go off on their on.

"You learn so much your government and your nation," Pokorny said. "It's great that the Clutier Legion made this possible for me."

For those seeking our feature on Sabryna Rigel's adventure at Girls State published last week, contact for copies of the August 2 issue.



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