Released June 9, 2003


HATTIESBURG - On Sunday, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove encouraged delegates to the 56th Annual Magnolia Girls State at The University of Southern Mississippi to recognize and take advantage of the opportunities around them, especially those closest to home.

"It's been said that youth is a time of missed opportunities," Musgrove told the hundreds of young women gathered in Southern Miss's Bennett Auditorium. "I want to encourage you not to miss opportunities."

Musgrove pointed specifically to opportunities inside Mississippi, and encouraged the Girls State delegates to think about those first when planning their futures.

Saying the delegates could one day find themselves faced with opportunities "literally from every other state in the nation," the governor asked that they not forget what their home state has to offer.

Touting the recently opened Nissan auto manufacturing plant in Canton as an example, Musgove said that achievements in the area of economic development are helping carve out a new image for Mississippi, one the youth of today will be able to take advantage of tomorrow.

"Mississippi is being recognized as a leader," he said.

The governor said he wanted the delegates to know that they would have to stay focused on their goals as they moved into the future, adding, "When people say that can't happen in Mississippi, I say it will happen in Mississippi. It's happening for our young people right now."

He told the delegates, "You are outstanding young people, the future of our state."

During a brief question-and-answer period following his remarks, Musgrove fielded queries from the delegates on topics ranging from teacher qualifications and sex education in the classroom to avenues of financial assistance for those seeking a college education.

The questions were in keeping with the governor's assertion that, "So many times I find the best questions, the most thoughtful questions, and the most probing questions are asked by these ladies at Girls State."

Asia Speights, a 16-year-old senior from Hattiesburg High School, felt positive about Musgrove's speech to the Girls State delegates.

"I liked the way he was real direct, and made a lot of sense, and made me see that he is concerned," Speights said.

Lin Board, a 17-year-old senior from North Pike High School, said, "He did answer some of the questions that a lot of us have on our minds."

Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. It is designed to educate high school senior girls on the process of government through a series of campaigns and mock elections for various offices in the fictitious state of Magnolia.

Girls State's director, Kathy Dungan, said that the goal of program was to make the participants more civically aware.

"We hope to teach them a little bit about government, how the process works, so they will make good citizens," Dungan said.

Girls State will run through Friday, June 13. A number of speakers are slated to address the delegates during the session, including Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, who will speak , at 3 p.m. today.



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July 15, 2003 2:29 PM