Once a year, we get an incredible opportunity to see the future leaders of our state in action.
That opportunity took place this week as we greeted the participants of Boys State and Girls State in our Capitol.
The National American Legion established the Boys State program in 1935. The American Legion Auxiliary established Girls State in 1937.
Arkansas Boys State and Girls State is an immersive program in civics education designed for high school juniors across the state. More than 20 of our current members participated in Boys State or Girls State the summer before their senior year.
Upon arrival, each participant is assigned a mock political party, city, and county. Throughout the week, delegates administrate this mock government as if it were the real government.
By week’s end, Boys State and Girls State have created their own state government including their own governor and staff of state officials. They establish their own Supreme Court and legislature.
The mock legislative session is held in the Capitol with many of our members assisting the students through the bill presentation and voting process.
The bills they present always give insight into the issues important to this generation. This year, Girls State presented bills aimed at combating opioid overdoses, preventing school shootings through mental health training for teachers, and implementing toll roads. Participants of Boys State presented mock legislation to require law enforcement officers to complete sensitivity training and a bill to increase the legal age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21.
Boys State and Girls State provides our students with an opportunity to learn how our government operates without using a text book. It teaches them through a real-life experience they will never forget.
If you know a young man or woman interested in serving, encourage them to visit with their high school guidance counselor who can provide information on how to participate in next year’s program.