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Maxwelle Tartaglia represented Orestimba High at the Girls State event this summer. 

This summer, two seniors from Orestimba were chosen to represent their school at the 2019 Boys State and Girls State sessions. The programs educate students from high schools all over California about how the country’s government operates, while providing realistic,  hands-on experience running a mock government of their own.

In June, Maxwelle Tartaglia attended the 2019 Girls State session, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, at Claremont McKenna College. Upon learning that she was chosen as this year’s Orestimba delegate, the 16 year-old daughter of Jeanette Koback-Tartaglia and George Tartaglia was honored.

“I didn’t really expect to be chosen, but I was overly excited to be given the opportunity,” she said.

During Girls State, Tartaglia learned about what goes into running the state and, by extension, the nation. Some of her most notable lessons related to logistical aspects, such as the process by which bills pass through the legislative branch, as well as the subliminal factors that are a driving force in politics. When asked about any similarities she had seen between the simulated government and that of our country, she talked about the lack of transparency in political campaigns.

“Something I saw that reminded me of our government were people running for positions off of a slogan that didn’t really give away anything regarding their intentions once elected,” she recalls. “It’s a tactic that works, so I can’t really be upset at its use, but I can be upset with the voters that fall for it.”

The delegates add to the power of the program through their direct involvement while portraying a variety of roles. Tartaglia participated by representing a lobbyist working in the legislative assembly.

When it came to the others she met, Tartaglia was impressed by the degree of diversity.

“I enjoyed meeting other girls who were passionate about expressing their opinions and were willing to debate and discuss them with me. The difference in opinion came down to their different experiences, and that diversity was my favorite part of the program,” Tartaglia related.

She was even able to meet someone who shared her Thai heritage and forged a close friendship.

The many activities at Girls State included motivational speakers.

Tartaglia found one particularly moving.

“ I distinctly remember her sharing some of her experiences from being involved in government, specifically being told by a man above her that she should just give up,” she recalled. “She shared that she was able to find a balance between her work life and (family) and I thought that that was inspirational.”

The atmosphere at Girls State was in contrast to the current political climate, said Tartaglia, with none of the chaos discord being seen in real-life political circles.

“In our current government, there is a political divide between our two-party system that leaves no room for discussion or compromise. [At Girls State], for the most part, everybody had the same political beliefs,” she said. “I believe that by all of us coming from the same generation, we are all aware of our government’s problems and shortcomings. Being able to hear from women my age from all over California who share beliefs similar to my own filled me with optimism for when we are all able to vote and make decisions for our government.”