By Tim Sproles
ANGOLA, Ind.– The American Legion Department of Indiana celebrated the 81st Anniversary of Hoosier Boys State as 358 students graduated the 2018 class on Friday, June 22 at Trine University in Angola, Ind.
Hoosier Boys State is an annual camp 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% of their fellow Hoosiers.
“We have all of the functions that a state government has,” 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.
Weyler also said, “We are exposed to politics every day. When it comes to governing, the political world is hard to grasp if you are just reading it in a book. You almost have to experience it first hand and that’s what we are doing here at Boys State.”
At The American Legion’s Hoosier Boys State government simulation, students work closely together, build alliances, campaign for their parties, and lobby for bills to be passed.
“To be completely honest with you I thought this was going to be a boring week where you’re going to be wearing a suit and tie the whole time trying to act all gentleman-like.” said Lace Watkins. “But it turns out to be completely different as this has progressed, you really understand how our political system works.”
The week-long program, also provides scholarship opportunities and leadership guidance to help put these young men on the “fast-track” to success in life.
“Just hearing my son talk about our system of government was very impressive. Truth be told I only understood half of what he was talking about,” said, Melissa Gardner, a parent of a recent Boys State graduate. “I really believe that what he learned this week is going to stay with him forever.”
Two exceptional students of this year’s class will go on to compete for more scholarship opportunities at Boys National in Washington D.C. later this year.
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.
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