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Released June 1, 2005


HATTIESBURG – Become involved and stay active because Mississippi needs you. That was the message Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck delivered to nearly 400 delegates at the 58th Annual American Legion Auxiliary Girls State on Wednesday at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Challenging them to set and achieve high goals, Tuck told the group of high-school seniors to become "a force in their community." This week, delegates will learn the ABCs of government and participate in mock political conventions, elections, trials and city projects.

"To become a leader, you need to have a vision of where you want to go, need to have the courage to stand up and achieve that goal, and you need to have the ability to work with other people," Tuck said.

She also encouraged the girls to always keep abreast of the issues and to let their voices be heard. Tuck discussed some of the hot-button issues around the state and the nation, for example, education, health care, religion in schools, the Iraq war and financial stability for Mississippians serving in the military- issues that were definitely on the minds of this year's Girls State participants.
"I have choir, and we don't even have a class room. We deserve a classroom and a piano that's in tune," said 16-year-old Mendenhall High School student Marquita Watkins, who expressed her concerns about the financial state of Mississippi's education system.

After reassuring the delegates about leaders' dedication to Mississippians -- fielding questions about why she switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party and calming the fears of those girls wanting to follow in her footsteps but are of afraid of male egos -- Tuck took out some one-on-one time with her admirers.

Earlier in the day, the delegates heard from Secretary of State Eric Clark, who promoted character and ethics.

"People who work in government especially always need to remember that we don't do it for our glory, we don't do it to be important; we do it to help people, and if any day our motivation is not to help people, then we are absolutely wrong. We're in the wrong line of work, and we need to get our values straight or either get out," said Clark.



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July 22, 2005 2:24 PM