Four WHS Students Selected to Attend Boys and Girls State Programs

Four WHS Students Selected to Attend Boys and Girls State Programs

Abbey Smith



Students interests in high school can range anywhere from playing three different sports to participating in the school’s theater productions. While most kids find their niche outside of the classroom, some find theirs in a certain subject.  The Boys and Girls State programs, sponsored by the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, are summer leadership and citizenship programs held for high school juniors across the country. The programs are aimed at fostering the learning of those students who have shown a particular interest or proficiency in history, specifically government.

Students each year are nominated by their history teachers and are then put through a selection process, which varies from state to state.  In Massachusetts this year, nominated students had to be interviewed by a representative of the Walpole legion, who asked candidates questions about their extracurriculars, Walpole’s government, as well as the state and federal governemtns.  Based off of this, the interviewer then chose the best candidates to attend the Boys and Girls State.  This year, two girls and two boys from Walpole High were chosen to participate in the program: juniors Ashley Waldron, Hannah McLaughlin, Peter Hoegler, and Jon Kelland.  All four will attend the Massachusetts program, which will be held from June 15th to the 21st at Stonehill College.

Over the course of their week in the program, the four WHS students will learn how to participate in the functioning of their state government in order to prepare themselves for their future roles as adult citizens.  Participants are also exposed to the rights, the duties and the responsibilities of an adult citizen.  In past years, students have participated in a multitude of activities, one including students being divided into subgroups known as “cities.”  The citizens of each city would then elect mock officials to be their “representatives” in a mock state government, and also then elect state officials–all in order to give the students a real idea of what being a part of your local government is like.

For students who are interested in pursuing a career in government, these programs can be invaluable.  Kelland said, “I am definitely considering a role in government and I think this experience will aid me in possibly making a positive difference in Washington in the future because the whole program is about finding students who show a propensity for politics and teaching them more as well as allowing them to implement what they already know in a real world situation.”  Even if students do not pursue a career in politics, the lessons learned at this program expand students’ overall knowledge of how government works, allowing them to be active and conscientious citizens.  Mclaughlin said, “As of now, I don’t think I’ll be extremely involved in governement in the future but I think the conference is an excellent opportunity to experience leadership firsthand, which can be applied to any future occupation.”