By Michael Clarke | Assistant News Editor
The Texas Boys State program will be held at the UT Austin campus from June 7-13. The program, sponsored by the American Legion, exposes young men to the inner workings of the government and allows the 1,000 participants to help in governing a fictitious 51st state in order to simulate the democratic process.
The veteran’s service organization, the American Legion, has organized the Boys State program in all 50 states for the past 75 years. Each local American Legion chapter conducts several yearly fundraising campaigns so that participants will pay none of the cost of attending the weeklong event.
“Our members do various fundraising activities in order for several boys from Richardson to attend,” American Legion Post 368 Commander Larry Taylor said.
Upon recommendation by school officials to attend Boys State, applicants must compose and submit an essay of dual topics. First, applicants write why they would like to attend and then how it relates to their patriotic fervor and love of the country.
If Legion officials find the content of the letter to show genuine interest, an interview is scheduled as the last step in the application process to make a final determination in allowing the potential candidate to attend the program.
Junior Michael Clarke was recently accepted into the program.
“In past years we have had students who attended Boys State go on to select one of the service academies as the choice for higher education,” counselor Willa Myers said. “It really shows how great of an experience this program provides for the kids.”
Attending the Boy’s State program as a junior is considered to be a prestigious achievement in many circles and is a significant factor looked at for those interested in attending one of the nation’s four service academies.
“Going to Boys State was something I’ll never forget and furthered my dream of signing with the Air Force,” Air Force Academy Cadet and Pearce graduate Sam Eckholm said.
Notable Boys State alumni include former President Bill Clinton and journalist Tom Brokaw.
During the weeklong “simulated” political convention, members will select one delegate to represent the state of Texas at the American Legion’s national program Boys Nation.