Five local seniors participate in Boys State

Published 6:08 pm Friday, June 20, 2014

By Christina Myles

Five rising seniors from Pike County participated in Boys State earlier this month at the University of Alabama.

Students across Alabama were chosen for the American Legion’s weeklong program designed to introduce them to the workings of government and the roles citizens play in government. Local participants included Zack Calhoun and Reilly Fox from Charles Henderson High School; Jeffrey Saunders and Hunter Murphree from Pike Liberal Arts School; and Brice Benca from Goshen High School.

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“I was about 600 of us and by the end of the week we had a full state government,” Calhoun said. He served as part of the court of civil appeal.

“I was elected into the judicial branch and was an attorney in the mock trials that we held,” Calhoun said. “The whole process really inspires you and helps you to understand politics and public services jobs more.”

The students, called delegates, also had the opportunity to meet several Alabama public officials such as congressmen and state elected officials.

“I enjoyed getting to know people and am happy I got a chance to meet so many new people,” Saunders said. “It’s now easier for me to introduce myself to people.”

Saunders, who was a district judge, was responsible for resolving disputes among the citizens in the House and the Senate in the mock government.

“I had an incredible time,” Saunders said. “It was a great experience and I learned a lot about the government and how politics works.”

The delegates were able to join interest groups based on their areas of interest, such as education.

“Although I don’t want to be in government, loved learning about the laws in education,” said Fox, who served on his city’s board of education. “In our meetings we talked about real issues like what is good and bad about schools.”.

“I loved it,” Reilly Fox said. “By the end of the week I didn’t want to leave. I met a lot of great people.”

One of the tenets of Boys State is that to ensure the republic’s survival, young people should be trained in the ideals and goals of American government.

“It was a humbling experience to be able to meet with a talk to so many other people like me and to see what we could do,” Murphree said.

He served as the fire chief for his city and learned that to be effective as a community or government “you need to be willing to work together and you need to have a strong leader.”

Murphree said his group laid sod and installed sprinklers for a dog park as part of their community service project. “We all worked to help build a dog park.”

Benca said he really enjoyed the speakers at Boys State the most.

“Boys State taught me a lot of values that I can take on with me in life,” Benca said. “I was a part of the House of Representatives and helped to pass bills to the Senate. It was a great time, and it really motivated me.”