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UM Hosts American Legion Boys State for Fourth Consecutive Year

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Mississippi hosts the American Legion Boys State beginning Monday (May 27), bringing young men from across the state to campus for a week of events designed “to develop tomorrow’s informed, responsible citizens.”

“We’ve been blessed to have partnerships with the American Legion and with the university at Ole Miss, said Hunter Pace, first time director of the American Legion Boys State—participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government.

Pace said the organization teaches these young men about local government, such as Board of Aldermen and Supervisors, to state legislation.

The university was chosen to host Boys State for three years, beginning in 2016. However, this will be the fourth year at UM with as many as 400 delegates staying on campus who will have access to the many resources of UM departments and programs. Here, they perform the functions of state and local governments to develop their leadership, political skills, and understanding of governing and citizenship.

Shane Aguirre, a former director of the organization and state representative of District 17, said he comes back to the organization to help answer questions and help the staff that runs the program.

“Boys State is so that [the attendees] understand how our government works,” Aquirre said. “Particularly our state government.”

The program, started in 1938, was adopted by the national organization in 1945, with a goal of showing that democracy needs both an intelligent citizenry and also a moral, honest and impartial administration that is responsive to the will of the people.

The nonpartisan program, open to young men who are high school juniors, is conducted each year across the country through each state’s Department of the American Legion. It’s estimated that more than 28,000 young men annually participate in the civic workshops.

The gathering is designed to be a virtual 51st state with a constitution, statutes and ordinances constructed by its citizens to govern themselves. Mississippi’s Boys State is known as the mythical state of Magnolia.

Participants are required to review their knowledge about political workings of state and local government, and they perform the same duties as real-world officeholders.

For more information on the American Legion Boys State, visit their official website.

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