Every second Saturday of the month by mid-morning, the residents of Sunrise Assisted Living Home in Redondo Beach get ready to enjoy the “one-woman show” that is brought to them by Katie Sitter.The elderly, many of them with Alzheimer’s, reminisce at the tune of a repertoire that includes classics from “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Casablanca,” “Show Boat” and more.Nothing extraordinary about this picture, if it weren’t that the performer is a teenager who one day decided on her own to lend her voice (“my main instrument,” she says) to help bring back good memories to the elderly and to have fun together with them. “When I leave, I leave fulfilled,” says the president of Bishop Montgomery High School’s drama lab.That is her way of giving back to the community. Adding to music — a talent she has improved at St. James Parish’s teen choir — she has also developed a skill for writing and public speaking, which altogether earned her an award with American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State, a program founded in 1937 that helps increase young women’s knowledge of local, county and state government in an effort to improve their leadership skills.Sitter, who describes herself as the “devious middle child [she has an older and a younger sister] who made all the trouble,” was selected as the first alternate to represent California at Girls Nation, a summer meeting of more than 20,000 high school girls from across the country who put in practice what they have learned about civics inside and outside the classroom. The first alternate attends Girls Nation in case the delegate cannot attend.“It is a very important position to the Girls Nation Program,” said Michele McEwan, first vice president of American Legion Auxiliary Post 184 in Redondo Beach in charge of selecting the delegates for the state award.The selection is based on the fine accomplishments that the teenagers make at Girls State, she explained. The girls set up their own miniature city, county and state governments, which they administer according to the laws of their particular state. Activities include legislative sessions, campaigning, party rallies, debating and voting. They are also instructed in parliamentary procedures.Sitter won the position after submitting an essay and her biography and holding an interview with McEwan. She competed against four other students in her school.Delegates are selected from a pool of applicants (this year there were 19 competitors) from two public high schools in the South Bay area, one public school in Catalina Island, and Bishop Montgomery, the only private high school. Four girls are picked at the end of the selection process that lasts about two months. Although school grades are important, they are not the primary factor for selecting the winners.The four then travel to the state meeting (this year’s was June 26-July 1 at Claremont McKenna College), where they join other junior-level girls from all walks of life. Here they are trained in a mini-city structure similar to the one used for Girls Nation, where they perform in government roles, writing and delivering speeches, writing samples of bills and working on party platforms. The two best performers are chosen to represent the state at the national level.“We had to find the best euphemisms for our phrases,” Sitter said, “to the point, clear.”She admits not to be the most civic-minded person, but believes she is a “leader at heart” and “politically aware,” always interested in watching or reading about politics. After graduating from high school she would like to pursue a double major in broadcast journalism and business, she said. While in middle school she got a taste of it when performing as a newscaster for her school’s internal TV news. Last February she was featured on KABC-TV’s weekly “Cool Kid” segment for setting an example with her contributions to the community.She said she has learned from watching her parents “doing much” for the community and from the “well-rounded and well-structured” education received in the Catholic schools she has attended.Established in 1920, Post 184 of the American Legion also provides scholarships to area high schools, holds fundraisers to support the troops on active duty and is active in the efforts to complete the Redondo Beach Veterans Memorial. Its membership is comprised of veterans of all wars, starting from WWI.For more information about American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State, visit www.legion-aux.org or email [email protected]. For Post 184 in Redondo Beach, email [email protected].{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0923/spgirlstate/{/gallery}