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
"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.