The Daily AL Boys State Blog
A Delegate’s Dedication
By Ethan Ivy
Judge O.L. “Pete” Johnson, has been Director of the American Legion’s Alabama Boys State for over 30 years, and has been unwavering in his dedication to the molding of young minds, educating the rising seniors on aspects of government, and leadership for decades. Johnson was a Jefferson County Criminal District Court Judge for years, and established one of the first drug courts in Alabama. He understands first hand how mercy can change a person for the better.
When interviewing Judge Johnson, he often used humor to engage the group into his responses. For example, when asked, “What do you believed you are to Boys State?” he immediately responded with, “Just an old guy that keeps coming back, I guess.” But then he altered the tone of the answer to be more serious in saying that his goal for Boys State every year is to educate the young minds of Alabama about the government in their state and to create future productive citizens of Alabama.
Judge Johnson truly wants what is best for Alabama and plans to expand Boys State to have more members to educate more people on the importance of government and leadership. Johnson’s true goal is complete and total engagement of future Alabama citizens
in their local, state, and national government. Voter participation in Alabama is one of the lowest in the world and if all citizens that are eligible to vote were to participate then true democracy would have been reached. This goal is accomplished at Boys State by the delegates participating in a mock government where they elect mayors, senators, and even a governor and many other offices. The participants learn the importance of government and are educated on how it is actually works in Alabama.
Through Judge Johnson’s experiences at Boys State, he became actively engaged in government, and in understanding its power to help people. Judge Johnson was elected Lieutenant Governor at his Boys State and represented Alabama at Boys Nation, where he learned more about how segregated and racist Alabama was as a state while he was a teenager.
Johnson tried to bring antiracism to his generation, and has worked to make Alabama the better for it. His experience at Boys State and Boys Nation changed his perception of his state entirely – and motivated him to be actively involved in improving it. That is what he hopes for each and every student that attends Boys State.
The Daily AL Boys State Blog
Candidates Aim to Persuade Voters
By Wesley Lowman
On Tuesday night, delegates of the 82nd American Legion Alabama Boys State gathered in the Ferguson Center ballroom for a general session that would feel as though it would go down in Boys State history. The candidates for Statewide offices presented their cases to voters on why they should be elected to serve at this year’s Alabama Boys State.
The night, led by the Federalist and Nationalist Party Chairmen and Vice Chairmen, began with campaign speeches given by candidates for Constitutional offices – those that are mandated by the Alabama Constitution. The candidates for Governor were given a five minute maximum time for their speeches, while candidates for other offices were given four minutes to speak.
During these speeches, many insightful ideas were brought forth by candidates from each party, leaving voters conscientiously contemplating who they felt would be the best person for the position. Jokes were laughed at, policies were proposed, and thoughts were provoked during this gathering of over 600 of the brightest young men in the state of Alabama.
After the campaign speeches, delegates were offered a chance to participate in a town hall. During the town hall, delegates asked questions that would be answered by candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Topics discussed included welfare reform, the legalization of marijuana, a state lottery, education improvement, abortion, energy, infrastructure, and prison reform.
Both the Federalist and Nationalist Party platforms addressed similar issues, so the campaign speeches and town hall meeting provided delegates with more information that would allow them to make an informed decision at the ballot box today, Wednesday. The elections are now over and results are in (and available via Twitter and Facebook). The Governor and Lieutenant Governor will have the privilege of traveling to Washington D.C. in July to represent our great state at Boys Nation. Good luck to all of the candidates in their elections, and we look forward to the many things our delegation will accomplish this year.
Boys State: Getting to Know Your City and Yourself
By Dawson Camp
When I first arrived at Boys State, I was a bit overwhelmed. When I got out of the car, all I could see was a crowd of unfamiliar faces. I only knew one person from my hometown. As I was unloading my luggage from my car, I got to meet my assistant counselor for the week. He introduced himself and told me about our city and the group I would be in, City 8. He also told me the best advice I have had, which was to get myself out there and get to know people.
Overcoming this barrier was a difficult thing to do. So I went to my room hopeful and encouraged by my new counselor to find there was no one there other than myself. I thought this was okay and went to lunch. When I came back, I met my first roommate, and later on the rest of them. Once we got settled we met at our first city meeting got to know our counselors.
After this we all went to orientation and then came back to City meeting to get to know one another. We all sat together and I started to introduce myself to fellow delegates. This allowed me to get to know them and start to make friends and connections. We then separated into Federalists and Nationalists allowing for a more personalized connection between the groups.
Overall City groups and Party groups are the best way to get yourself out there and the best way to get to know everyone. Once you know the other delegates and have made friends, Boys State becomes one of the best experiences of your life. In just the first two days, I have made long lasting friends and connections, and will never forget the City of Odom.
By Avry Zow
THE KIDS, THE SUMMER, AND POLITICS!?!??!
It’s summer break; kids will be at the beach, others are going to another state, and some will be traveling out of the country for a vacation to remember. However, for a select few, some will be attending Tuscaloosa, Alabama before they kick off their summer plans. What could possibly be happening there that would make students give up their time in the sun or relaxing on the couch you might ask?
Well the answer is…ALABAMA BOYS STATE. Boys from all across Alabama are selected by their schools for their overall character, and what schools would consider the “role model” student.
These students spend a full week doing various activities that are created; moreover, in hopes of bringing togetherness, create friendships, and to discover qualities or passions that they had not realized they had.
Sounds like an opportunity of a lifetime, right? Nevertheless, some students that are selected don’t attend this program and some that go don’t try to be involved.
That can’t be right, it’s a chance to visit one of the top schools in Alabama and even explore parts of the campus without having to schedule a college visit. How could this be so? I believe the reason why this opportunity is missed is because of the social stigma and rumors that Boys State is just simple politics.
I’m sorry to say, I believed that this organization was just politics. I came here because I felt honored to be chosen by my school and felt personally obliged to attend because my older brother went as well. However, in my first day in attendance I came to realize that this place.
The University of Alabama doesn’t just host national champions, but it also hosts an organization, Alabama Boys State, that inspires youths to be aware of the world around them and to push for change in our nation, in our world. How they can be the difference that can change how our nation is turning. How our character can develop and further our communities. How being genuine, truthful, and humbled can pave the way for the next generation.
I will admit that Boys State contains central aspects of government and politics; however, is that a bad thing and something not to look into at young age? I believe most children are pointed into the direction of political parties and beliefs by the parents, instead of trying to let them grow without hearing the sides of others and containing ignorant ideas. Why not let them come to a place where they can express their ideas but also exercise in hearing from others without being disrespectful.
Too often we see politicians bicker about being right and not ever admitting to when they are wrong. If we can change that perspective in young individuals that it is okay to being wrong, then it can lead to creating change in our country.
So for everyone out there that is still wondering what Boys State is, come see yourself. Experience the bonds we share, the knowledge we obtain from others, and memories we create that are unforgettable. If you get chosen don’t shy away or fall prey to what you hear without experiencing it yourself and join ALABAMA BOYS STATE.