Back row, from left, Chairman Vernon Kerr of Boys State Los Alamos, Commander Post 90 William J. Cooper, Unit 90 President Shaughnessy Nadeau and Chairwoman Marie Todd of Girls State Los Alamos. Front row from left, Aaron Roybal, Kyle Partin, Dory Geyer, Conlon McCoy, Benjamin Mitsunaga, not shown, Girls State participant Amanda Milligan. Courtesy Photo
AMERICAN LEGION News:
The American Legion held a Boys & Girls State Dinner Sunday, Sept. 30 to honor its 2012 Delegation.
American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high-school students.
A participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government. The program was the idea of two Illinois Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, who organized the first Boys State at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program for young women called Girls State.
At Boys State, participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments.
Operated by students elected to various offices, Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.
Legion posts select high-school juniors to attend the program. In most cases, individual expenses are paid by a sponsoring post, a local business or another community-based organization.
Boys State programs currently exist in all Legion departments except Hawaii. As separate corporations, Boys State programs vary in content and method of procedure, but each adheres to the same basic concept: teaching government from the township to the state level.
More than seeing and hearing we learn and remember by doing. That’s one reason ALA Girls State has such an impact. For a whole week the young women are actively engaged in “doing” government.
The two-party political system is brought to life through setting up and administering city, county and state governments. From campaigning, party rallies, and debating to mock legislative sessions and parliamentary procedures the girls are immersed in experiential learning.
The result? Many participants choose a career path involving politics or community service. And all leave with knowledge about their responsibilities as U.S. citizens and memories that will last a lifetime.