Boy’s State participants learn more than politics

Published 10:37 am Friday, June 28, 2013

Written by Trent Thompkins, intern with The Messenger

Four lucky Pike County high schoolers got a chance to participate in the 2013 American Legion Boys’ State, held on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham on June 9-14.

The American Legion Boys’ State is a program that teaches participants the rights and responsibilities of hard-working U.S. citizens. The training for the young men is designed to teach them the structure of the American government – on the city, state and country levels. Participants were split up into eight different ‘cities’ and mock states. Each city and state elected officials to govern in political races.

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Terrence Cochran, of Pike County High School, said the program reminds him of the same discipline it takes to play football at his school.

“Everything’s pretty much the same. Boys’ State has rules and so does football,” he said. “Even the walking around, that was exercise,” he jokingly said.

Boys’ State is designed with discipline in mind. It teaches certain values to young adults, values that will be needed later on in life, even if the teens aren’t planning to become a politician.

But politics is in the plan for Pike Liberal Arts Student, Caleb Gray.

“I will definitely hold a political office one day,” he said. Gray was one of the many students to participate in the program for the political aspect. “I would ultimately like to run for Governor of Alabama. I would love to possibly be mayor of Troy as well,” he said.

One thing these students can agree on is that the experience was a clear-cut game changer.

“It was a good eye opener,” Cochran said. “It’s nice to see that there are other very well-mannered and talented people out there striving for the same goals in life”.

“We went to UAB, it was one of the coolest things. They spoke of the different technology that will affect government.” Gray said.

Joel Kervin of Pike Liberal Arts said the biggest thing he learned from Boys’ State was communication. “The most valued lesson I learned was how to meet new people,” he said.

Kervin said he was impressed by all the guest speakers and famous faces, including University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

“He talked about leadership values while stressing the importance of never giving up on anything,” Kervin said.

Jefferey Jordan, who attends Charles Henderson High School, also attended the event, but was unable to be reached for comments.