Nearly 400 Utah high school coeds began their Girls State experience Monday. The yearly encampment is geared to give high school students first-hand experience in American government.

Girls State convened on Southern Utah State College campus.With the American Legion and SUSC as hosts, the program involves select young women who will be seniors this fall. Local American Legion auxiliaries choose two representatiave from each Utah high school to attend.

Several local, county and state officials will take part in the events. Scheduled guests include American Legion Auxiliary President Marianne Jensen, Cedar City Mayor Robert Linford, Iron County Commissioner Jim Robinson and SUSC President Gerald R. Sherratt.

Participants are studying the administrative, legislative and judicial structure of each level of government. They can gain practical experience by organizing party conventions, electing representatives and enacting legislation.

Girls State centers on the theme "Make It Happen" and breaks the young women's activities into theme days, which are Hello Day, City Day, County Day, State Day, American Legion Auxiliary Day, and Legislative and Judicial Day.

After the first day, Girls Staters will follow the daily themes to study the different levels of American government more in depth. Girls State officials and actual city, county and state officials and administrators will conduct workshops during the first half of the theme days. After lunch the young women will break into mock conventions, meetings and campaigns. During the week, the girls also will elect representatives for mock city, county, and state elections.

Toward the end of Girls State, participants will elect state officers and two representatives to attend Girls Nation.