Boys State held on Troy Campus

Published 1:04 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

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By Joshua Windus

Boys State is a week-long event designed to teach civic responsibility and leadership to rising high school seniors. This year, it was held on the Troy University campus.

Cline Thompson, the PR and media director of Boys State described its purpose and how it operates.

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“So, it’s a program that was started by the American Legion and there is one in 49 of the fifty states and the District of Columbia,” Thompson said.

We’ve got kids from all across the State of Alabama. The point of Boys State is to teach and build citizenship and leadership and we use a mock government as that vehicle to teach those principles.

So, the entire group together is considered the state of Alabama. We divide them into 10 cities when they get here that’s the different colored T-shirts they are wearing. So each city wears the same colored tee shirt. There’s 10 cities and of those ten cities we pair them together and we make four counties.

Throughout the week they will elect a government for their city with mayor and city council, city attorney, those kind of jobs. They’ll elect county government, county commission, circuit judge, district judge, district attorney and then on Wednesday they will elect a state government. So governor, lieutenant governor, the supreme court, court of appeals, attorney general, public service commission, there’s thirty-one state-wide offices that they’ll compete for. They’re divided into two political parties, split down the middle. They get to create their own platform.”

Several participating Troy residents gave their impressions of Boys State. Ian Herbert goes to Zion Chapel High School in Jack and was a member of the Nationalist Party. He described how he first learned about Boys State.

“I heard about it from a bunch of my upperclassmen friends talking about it. I followed the Instagram for awhile and I’ve been seeing the stuff they post about it.”

When asked, he talked about his initial impressions.

“When I got here I was extremely clueless,” Herbert said. “I talked to my friends a little bit once I get here that have already come and they (kind of) helped me walk me through what to expect, what I needed to know. Since then, it’s only been uphill. Its just been getting better and better.”

He also mentioned running for several platforms.

“I ran for quite a few in my city and lost those,” he said. “I did end up getting Board of Education because no one else wanted it. Then I ran, I was like you know what, I might as well go for something big, I went for the president of the Public Service Commissions, and I won my primary at that and then I won the general. I went from Board of Education to cabinet member.”

Houston Gunter attends Pike Liberal Arts and was a Federalist. He described his impressions of Boys State.

“Its been really good actually,” Gunter said. “I came in a little skeptical about it at first because I didn’t know that much about government” adding that “I’ve learned a lot and met many new friends so its actually been a great experience.”

He went on to describe the highlights of his experience.

“I liked the elections a lot, seeing everybody compete against each other and the sports because that was very competitive,” he said.

Braden Renfroe also attends Pike Liberal Arts School and was a member of the Nationalist Party. He talked about how he was convinced to participate in Boys State. He said that he had heard about Boys State from students who had participated in the past.

“Then my counselor came to me and a lady from the Republican Women of Pike County came to me and asked if I wanted to come to Boys State so I said yeah,” Renfroe said.

Renfroe also discussed his political involvement.

“I ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and I was elected,” he said.

When asked what he would say to someone considering the experience he responded positively.

“I would say definitely come and get the experience because its taught me a lot about the government that I didn’t know,” said Renfroe. “So I would definitely say that if anyone’s interested to do it.”