The delegates for the 2012 American Legion Boys State and Girls State have been chosen from Warren County High School and Boyd Christian School.
Boys State will be held at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville from May 20-26. Lipscomb University in Nashville will be the site for Girls State, which will run from May 27 to June 2.
The seven WCHS Boys State delegates are Bryce Caten, Daulton Foster, John Michael Martin, Tucker Smith, Mitchell Steiner, Benjamin Wilson and Austin Wright. The two alternates are Robert Bess and Tyler Phillips. The Boys State delegate from Boyd Christian School is Will Sullivan.
Previously only two girls were selected from WCHS for Girls State, but due to the generous sponsorship of Noon Rotary and local attorney Mary Little Pirtle, four girls will be attending this year. The WCHS Girls State delegates are Annie Willmore, Blair Fisher, Bliss Zechman and Karaline Deaton. The two alternates are Joanna Paz and Kimberly Warden. The Boyd Christian School Girls State delegate is Sarah Campbell, and the alternate is Marisa Hillis.
Boys State and Girls State provide an opportunity for young men and women to experience actual problems of government as it operates in Tennessee through a unique process. Delegates will be assigned to mythical cities, counties and a mythical state for the duration of the program.
Around 600 boys representing every county in Tennessee will attend Boys State. Approximately 50 delegates will comprise a city, three cities will make up a county, and the four counties will make up a mythical 51st state.
The delegates will function under these political subdivisions for seven days, under the basic laws of Tennessee, using the existing constitution and laws of the state as their guide.
With Girls State, each delegate will be placed in one of 12 cities on arrival. Like the Boys State delegates, these young ladies will get the chance to run a mock government by meeting, living and working with other young leaders who will spend the week creating their own city, county and state governments where they will experience the electoral process first-hand.
The American Legion, which sponsors Boys State, and the American Legion Auxiliary, which sponsors Volunteer Girls State, point out in their literature that these programs are not meant to take the place of civics or government as they are taught in Tennessee schools. Instead the programs are designed so these young delegates may put into practice the theories of government through actual participation in city, county and state governments.
Through these programs the sponsors hope to impress on future generations the responsibilities of citizenship, to develop leadership and to bring to these young people the full realization of the duties of an American citizen.
Pirtle said she was glad to help send the extra girls this year, which was Col. Bruce Gipson’s idea. Pirtle says she feels this is a great program.
“I think it’s critical. I think it demonstrates and teaches leadership starting in high school,” said Pirtle. “It allows these girls to excel, and hopefully we’ll have equal numbers next year.”
Noon Rotary’s Megan Hamblen said the local service club is also glad to help.
“We believe women are critical to providing effective leaders in the community,” Hamblen said. “And starting them out at a young age is a great way to demonstrate that and show them that they’re important to the future of Warren County.”