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Madison American Legion sponsors 8 teens for Boys State 2021

MADISON – Eight Madison teenagers joined more than 600 delegates for the 2021 American Legion Alabama Boys State on July 11-17.

Madison American Legion, Post 229 sponsored local delegates from James Clemens and Bob Jones high schools to Boys State, which returned to the University of Alabama campus. Normally, the program is open to prospective seniors; however, because of COVID-19, the 2020 edition was postponed.

“This year, Boys State featured students who were selected to attend last year, as well as those chosen to participate in the Class of 2022,” Jean Downs said. Downs is a member of American Legion, Post 229 and president of Legion Auxiliary, Unit 229. “At this unique summit, (delegates) receive hands-on leadership training in government and community service under the motto, ‘We Build Citizenship.’”

Alabama Boys State is one of the highest honors granted to the state’s students. “Students are selected by their schools, based on their demonstrated leadership, hard work, strong morals and motivation in school and community activities,” Down said.

The 2021 representatives from James Clemens were Jack Bell, Sebastian Davis and Aaron McNair. Representing Bob Jones were Camden Grant, Caleb Johnson, Roland Matthews and Christian Rice. In addition, one 2020 representative from Bob Jones, Samuel Glover III attended.

At Boys State, students build new friendships, participate in a mock government and hear from and meet a diverse array of Alabama leaders. Delegates can join interest groups focused on individual interests, such as law school, fire college, lobbyists, city and county government, constitutional convention and academies for engineering/computer studies, environmental concerns, law enforcement and aerospace.

Delegates also can pursue recreational activities, like basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer and academic bowl.

“American Legion believes there is no better way to assure the survival of our republic than to train our young people in the ideals and objectives of American government,” Downs said. “By teaching youth to understand basic principles in successful management of a democratic society, we can keep America strong and ensure freedom for future generations.”

To open the week, Gov. Kay Ivey congratulated and gave expectations to the boys. House Minority Leader Rep. Anthony Daniels, House Rep. Bill Poole and State Treasurer John McMillan addressed the convention.

Other speakers included Michael Kratsios, former acting U.S. Undersecretary of Defense and retired Col. Mark Valentine, former F-16 pilot in U.S. Air Force.

Madison County American Legion posts hosted a joint orientation for Boys State. Yancy Mitchell, Dean of Boys State Counselors and Larry Vannoy, Post 229 and District 12 Commander, were guest speakers. Attendees viewed a video presentation from Mason Laney, 2019 James Clemens graduate and 2018 Boys State Governor.

Boys who are juniors in high school can apply for 2022 Boys State by contacting their school’s counselors.

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