Girls State is a nationwide program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. Each year more than 400 high school junior girls from throughout the state of West Virginia are offered the opportunity to be active participants in structured role-playing that emphasizes our democratic form of self-government.
The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 29 works with local high schools to select the students. The students selected have demonstrated an interest in learning about government and are leaders in their high schools along with being in the top of their class.
West Virginia Rhododendron Girls State for 2013 was conducted at Wheeling Jesuit University from June 9-14.
Kayla Nicole Gainer, 16, is the daughter of Dr. Jim and Marisa Gainer. She will be a senior at Elkins High School. She is a three-year letterman in swimming and has been a part of 3 state champion relay teams. She has also lettered in soccer for 3 years and tennis for 2 years. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society. She is a member of the Alliance Church youth group and an active participant in Young Life. She has participated with the Old Brick apprentice plays and with the Augusta Youth Ballet Company. She is sponsored by Mountain Valley Bank.
Cayla Collett, 16, resides on her family farm with her parents, Alan and Tricia Collett, and her three sisters, Alayna, Jeyna and Sydney. She is active in school, where she is a part of the cross country team, Student council, class council and National Honor Society, and a tutor for elementary school students. Outside of school, this young lady is a 12-year member of 4-H and a lifelong member of Degree of Honor through which she spends many hours volunteering her time to the community. As a member of the 4-H teen leaders organization, Cayla has been a camp counselor, served as an officer, and been involved in other community activities with the club. Because of her commitment to community service, she was the recipient of the Teen Volunteer of the Year award in 2013. On her free time, Cayla is an active dancer that led her to become a professional dancer at the Gandy Dancer. Cayla is being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Elkins.
Katy Ross is an upcoming senior at Elkins High School. She is the daughter of Tug Ross and Dee Roth, both of Coalton, and has a younger brother, Sam. She is a member of student council and class council and will serve as President of the UNITAS chapter of National Honor Society next school year. Katy is President of her school's Celtic Arts and Entertainment club. A member of the West Virginia Highlanders for three years, she also plays the bagpipe competitively. She is a frequent dog walker at the Randolph County Humane Society and a member of the St. Brendan's Catholic Church youth group. Katy was chosen to attend the WV Governor's Honors Academy for three weeks this July. In her spare time, she takes Zumba class and duels with rabid opossums. She is being sponsored by the Women's Club of Elkins.
Katie Varchetto, 16, is the daughter of Pat and Monica Varchetto of Elkins. She is an upcoming senior at Elkins High School. Katie has been an apprentice at The Old Brick Playhouse since 2008 when she entered the nationally recognized program as a 6th grader, and will continue on with the program her senior year. Katie has also put her talents to use by directing the Davis Memorial Christmas Program for the past two years. She is also employed as a child care provider in the nursery and a tutor with the After School Program, all at DMPC. Katie is an Honor Roll Student and was sponsored by the Lions Club of Elkins.
Bradley Gutta is the 17-year-old daughter of Scott and Shelley Gutta. She participates in cheerleading and track and is an active member in class council. She intends on attending WVU and majoring in pharmacy. Bradley is being sponsored by the American Legion Post 29 of Elkins.
Madison Collett is the daughter of Russ and Sherri Collett of Beverly. She is the granddaughter of George and Jane Collett of Beverly and Charlie and Judy Brown of Belington. Madison has demonstrated much initiative and school pride by being a member of the National Honor Society, a current member of student and class councils, a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, and a letterman in varsity basketball, softball and soccer.
Madison Collett is also an active member and secretary of the Mount Vernon Colonial 4-H Club. Madison has been recognized statewide for her 4-H achievements and continues to develop her leadership abilities through annual participation in state 4-H Camp. Madison was selected to participate in the Citizenship-Washington Focus program and spent a full week in Washington, D.C. learning about the legislative process and government at the National Level. She is also a member of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church where she has led Bible school activities and youth church events. Madison is very proud to be representing her school and community at the 2013 Rhododendron Girls State. She is being sponsored by Citizens National Bank.
Katherine Elizabeth Preusch is the 17-year-old daughter of Chuck and Lisa Preusch of Elkins. She will be a senior at Elkins High School. She has been a varsity cheerleader for the past three years and is a member of the school's National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America. She was selected by the Class of 2014 as both their freshman and junior class representative for the homecoming courts. Katie is an avid dancer, having been a member of Cheri's Dance Studio for 14 years, where she was also a two-year dance instructor and is currently a one-year member and instructor at Axis Training of Elkins. She is currently employed as a dancer at the Gandy Dancer Theatre and Conference Center. She is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Elkins. Preusch is being sponsored by Davis Trust Company of Elkins.
Caitlin Gutta, the daughter of Scott and Shelley Gutta, is 17 years old and will be a senior at Elkins High School. She has an older sister, Taylor, and a twin sister, Bradley. Caitlin is an honor roll student, an Elkins High School cheerleader and a member of the tennis team. Caitlin was awarded Big 10 All Conference in both cheerleading and tennis for the 2012-2013 season. She is currently employed at the Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course at Stonewall Resort. Following graduation, Caitlin plans to attend West Virginia University majoring in business marketing and accounting. Caitlin is being sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 29 of Elkins.
Sonja Skinner is the daughter of Randy and Maritza Skinner. She is an upcoming senior at Elkins High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. Skinner is also an active member of student council and class council of 2014. In addition, Skinner works as a dancer and waitress at The Gandy Dancer Theatre and Conference Center. She has been a dancer at the Center Stage Studio of Dance for four years and a dance instructor's assistant for three years. She hopes to attend Marshall University and pursue a career in the medical field. She is being sponsored by GFWC Junior Women's Club of Elkins.
Emily Morgan Davis is the daughter of John and Shawna Davis of Elkins. She is 17 and will be a senior in the fall at Elkins High School. She has one brother, Jonathan "Tyler" Davis, who has always inspired her to strive to be her best. She is currently employed at the local YMCA for childcare. Davis is an active member of HOSA in which she competed at state level and was recently elected to be reporter of the club. She was also inducted into the National Technical Honor Society through the Randolph County Technical Center where she has enrolled in many classes. She is an honor roll student who hopes to pursue a career in Speech Pathology. Emily is being sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 29 of Elkins.
Abbey Lambert, the daughter of Ronald and Anita Lambert, is an upcoming senior at Tygarts Valley Middle High School where she is an Honor Roll student. Abbey plays volleyball and softball at TVMHS. She is also a member of Upward Bound and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is interested in playing sports, watching movies and camping. Abbey plans on attending Fairmont State University and receiving a business management degree, after which she will open her own business. She is being sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 29 of Elkins.
Paige Pritt is the granddaughter of Betty Pritt. She is an Honor Roll Student at Tygarts Valley Middle High School. She is active in the TVMHS band, softball, volleyball, golf, basketball, and track, in which she has lettered in all. She is also a member of Upward Bound. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America. Paige has received awards for Student of the Month and for being on the Honor Roll. She has also attended the Governor's School for Math and Science. Paige is interested in sports, the military, exercise, and community service. After high school, Paige plans on pursing a career with the United States Marine Corp. Paige is being sponsored by Family Dental Practice of Elkins.