Thanks to the efforts of the American Legion posts in Oneonta, Snead, and Blountsville, along with some private donors, at least one rising high school senior from each of the eight high schools in the county will have their tuition and travel expenses paid to attend Girls State or Boys State. Typically, the students are selected by their high school counselors and/or principals.
The programs are week-long intense civics classes sponsored in 49 states by the American Legion. Hundreds of students from across the state gather to form cities and counties; elect mayors, councils, commissions, judges and legislators; enact ordinances and laws; attend special interest groups like law enforcement, fire college, law school, military academy, and journalism; and elect a governor and lieutenant governor, who later this summer will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in Girls Nation and Boys Nation. In addition to learning about public service, the programs allow students the opportunity to earn college scholarship money.
The students and their parents met last Thursday for an orientation. Brad Green, an attorney with offices in Blount County and Birmingham, is a long-time counselor at Boys State, as well as a former Boys Stater. He informed the group about what to expect in the week-long program.
Shelton Blythe, a senior at J.B. Pennington High School, attended Boys State last year. He shared his experiences with the crowd.
County Commission Chairman and Probate Judge Chris Green expressed the pride he and the county felt for each of the students. He encouraged their dreams, but reminded them that dreams come true through “hard work.” Green said he hoped they all do well in college and later in their careers; however, he encouraged them to return to Blount County to become “the future leaders that we will need.”
Blount County American Legion Commander Larry Stone said the local posts want to sponsor even more students next year. Anyone who wants to help can contact him at email@example.com.
Boys State will be held Sunday, May 26, through Saturday, June 1, and Girls State will be Sunday, June 9, through Friday, June 14. Both will be at the University of Alabama.