Ms. Hoda Abdalla, a rising senior at Lexington High School in Lexington School District One, wasrecently elected as the president of American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation. The election took place on July 25, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Abdalla, along with Ava Gracen Grainger, a rising senior at Latta High School in Dillon School District Three, represented ALA Palmetto Girls State and the American Legion Auxiliary Department of South Carolina during this week-long event held in Chevy Chase, Maryland, July 21-28. These Senators to Girls Nation were selected through an interview process from over 645 delegates during the week-long program of ALA Palmetto Girls State hosted on the campus of Presbyterian College in June.
At Lexington High School, Abdalla is involved in the Spanish Honor Society and Health Occupations Students of America, and she is her school’s yearbook editor-in-chief. During her week at ALA Palmetto Girls State she was elected as Mayor of her city and a member of the ALA Palmetto Girls State Senate. She was sponsored by American Legion Auxiliary Unit 7 in Lexington, SC. She is the daughter of Rugia Salih and Elrayah Osman. Ava Gracen, the daughter of Shannon and April Grainger, was elected as a member of City Council at ALA Palmetto Girls State.
For 72 years, the American Legion Auxiliary has provided young women with a citizenship training program that is second to none — ALA Girls Nation. This unique experience held every summer in the nation’s capital, is designed to provide practical insight into how the federal government operates, instill a sense of pride in and loyalty to America, and create friendships and memories that last a lifetime. Participants are known as “senators” and are selected from the 50 ALA Girls State sessions held in each U.S. state. At the state level, the girls focus on responsible citizenship and study local, county, and state government processes. Two outstanding citizens are then chosen to represent their state at ALA Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., where the focus moves to the federal government.
A key component of the ALA Girls Nation program involves mock senate sessions complete with caucusing and debating of bills. Topics ranging from personal to political interests ensure that the debates are lively and passionate. Campaigns are held to elect party officials, including an ALA Girls Nation president and vice president. The ALA Girls Nation president is invited to attend and speak at the American Legion Auxiliary National Convention later in the summer. In addition to their legislative forums, the senators hear from distinguished guest speakers and visit Arlington National Cemetery, the White House and memorials in the Washington, D.C. area. Their visit to Capitol Hill includes meetings with their states’ senators and representatives.
This week, Abdalla and Grainger met with several members of the South Carolina Congressional delegation, including Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Tim Scott, Congressman James Clyburn, and Congressman Joe Wilson. A highlight of the week is the opportunity to meet the current Vice President of the United States.
The American Legion Auxiliary is a nonpartisan organization committed to advocating for veterans’ issues, promoting patriotism, and mentoring America’s youth — proudly presenting ALA Girls Nation for over 70 years. The ALA Girls State and ALA Girls Nation programs are privately-funded and presented by members of the American Legion Auxiliary. Chartered in 1919, the American Legion Auxiliary is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization.
Florence Belser, Director of ALA Palmetto Girls State, said in a statement regarding Hoda and Ava Grace, “We are incredibly proud of both Hoda and Ava Gracen for their accomplishments at ALA Girls Nation. These two are exceptional leaders and outstanding representatives of the State of South Carolina, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the ALA Palmetto Girls State program. All of us who work with ALA Palmetto Girls State congratulate ALA Girls Nation President, Hoda Abdalla!”