Area students participate in Boys’ and Girls’ State

Ten area students attended Cornhusker Boys’ and Girls’ State this past week.

Boys’ state 

Seven Perkins County and Wallace boys were among nearly 350 high school juniors from across Nebraska who participated in American Legion Cornhusker Boys’ State, June 2-8 at the University of Nebraska Lincoln downtown campus. 

They included Sam McArtor and Jacob Woodmancy, sponsored by American Legion Post 40 in Grant; Evan Sestak and Ian Sihm, sponsored by American Legion Post 271 in Madrid; Matthew Wendell, sponsored by American Legion Post 270 in Venango; and Jerad Phillips and Jayden Wickizer, sponsored by American Legion Post 213 in Wallace. 

The annual citizenship program, sponsored by the Nebraska American Legion, is designed to provide youths with a better understanding of how city, county and state governments operate. 

Each boy is sponsored locally by an organization such as an American Legion Post, or by some other patriotic, civic, fraternal or religious group in cooperation with the local American Legion Post.

Cornhusker Boys’ State is set up as a functional “51st state” and each boy learns how government subdivisions operate by actually doing the job. Participants campaign for offices, hold elections, take part in band and chorus, compete in athletics, and get involved in other varied activities as part of the citizenship training program.

Citizens of American Legion Cornhusker Boys ‘ State are instructed in the duties of various public offices - they learn the functioning of each office and its powers and limitations. They set up their own state government. They draft bills and are taught the proper method of law enforcement.

Textbooks are provided explaining the practical operation and function of government agencies. Special lectures and addresses are delivered by experienced public officials and professional leaders including Governor Pete Ricketts, Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican, and Nationally acclaimed motivational speaker JoAnne Owens-Nauslar.

Graduation was held Saturday, June 8, at the University of Nebraska.

Since its inception in 1919, The American Legion has been a key advocate for veterans’ benefits, patriotic American values, instilling values in young people through numerous programs, and a strong nation defense with focus on quality-of-life issues for those serving in today’s armed forces.

Girls State

Juniors attending Girls’ State included Quinn Koop, sponsored by the Madrid Auxiliary Unit; and Syndey Pelster, sponsored by Wallace Post 213.

The American Legion Auxiliary developed a citizenship training program based on the formation of the American Legion’s Boys’ State program. 

This program offers training in the positive processes of self-government and good citizenship as practiced in democratic societies.

Girls’ State began as one and two day sessions in the late 1930s. In 1939, Girls’ State was altered to make it a week-long government education program. Since 1948 it has been a regular part of the Auxiliary’s Americanism curriculum.

The program is funded by the American Legion Auxiliary with some additional support coming from other civic and non-profit organizations. Little or no expense is required of the delegates and their families.

 At Girls’ State, the delegates study local, county and state government. The girls do this by setting up their own miniature city, county and state governments and administer them according to the rules and procedures set by Nebraska’s laws.

After arriving at Cornhusker Girls’ State, the citizens are divided into eight towns named after the Presidents of the United States. 

The citizens are also divided into two political parties — the Federalists and the Nationalists. These parties do not reflect the two major political parties in today’s system of government. The parties allow citizens to gain knowledge of how a two-party system operates.

Girls’ State citizens participate in these mock political parties and elections are held to fill city, county and state positions. 

Other activities include legislative sessions, campaigning, party rallies, mock trials and debating. The citizens also receive instruction in Parliamentary Procedure.

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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