Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
ANGOLA, Indiana– Politics are everywhere. On any given day, the headlines in your favorite news outlets have a political tie-in, but the entire political process is much more than just headlines or individual issues.
Young men taking part in Hoosier Boys State found this out first hand by breaking down the entire process to gain a complete understanding of the political process and why it is important.
Hoosier Boys State is an annual American Legion Department of Indiana program for Junior-aged high school students to actively work together to win elections, propose laws, negotiate bills and enforce the legislation and procedures established from the local, county and state levels. By week’s end, graduates know more about Indiana’s state government than 90 percent of their fellow Hoosiers.
The Department of Indiana celebrated the 82nd Anniversary of Hoosier Boys State as 304 students graduated the 2019 class Friday, June 19, at Trine University in Angola, Indiana.
“We simulate the entire process of running a campaign to the election. From there, we investigate all aspects of the Government and how it works.” said Scott Weyler, the Director of Hoosier Boys State. “We have two political parties, the Federalists and the Nationalists, which we split the group into. It is always great to see the boys work together and identify the benefits as well as the frustrations of democracy.”
Since Hoosier Boys State started in 1937, the program has reached more than 60,000 Hoosier youths including some notable Hoosier Boys State graduates such as former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former U.S. Senator Dick Luger and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
The First Hoosier Boys State in 1937
Anthony Fleming, who was attending Hoosier Boys State from McCordsville, Indiana, said that Hoosier Boys State isn’t just a week of instruction, it’s a deep-dive into Indiana’s Government.
He said, “It really helped me understand how our state Government works. What we learned here; you can’t really learn that at school.”
With a program that simulates a complete government, students work closely together, build alliances, campaign for their parties, and lobby for bills to be passed.
“To be completely honest with you I was a bit confused when we started,” said Anthony Fleming of McCordsville, Indiana. “I’ve seen bits and pieces of this process on the news. Without an understanding of the process, a lot of times, I just thought some of these politicians were crazy. It’s more than just learning a bunch of stuff. We are walking away with an understanding.”
The weeklong program also provides scholarship opportunities and leadership guidance to help put these young men on the “fast-track” to success in life. Hoosier Boys State handed out over $10 thousand this year alone.
Even though only a select few walked away with scholarships, Ethan Roos, who was elected as 2019 Hoosier Boys State Governor, told the audience at the closing ceremony that every single delegate of Hoosier Boys State comes away from the experience with something just as valuable.
He said, “Hoosier Boys State gave every single one of us a mold for our future. A mold that could lead us toward political change. What you do with this mold is completely up to you. Whether you fill your mold to the top, only partially, or you step outside the mold to create your own thing, Hoosier Boys State has given us a strong foundation to build on. Now it’s up to us.”
To learn how you can get involved, or to take advantage of this unique, time-tested opportunity, visit www.hoosierboysstate.org. Follow Hoosier Boys State on Facebook and Twitter.
Together, we change lives for Veterans, their families and their communities.
Tell us Your Story