RU welcomes Boys State

Some of the Commonwealth's future leaders were welcomed to Radford University on Sunday, June 16, for the start of the 71st session of American Legion Boys State of Virginia.

RU President Penelope W. Kyle addressed the 800-strong cohort of Boys State participants, who will spend the week learning about American civic principles and participating in a simulation of Virginia local and state government.

"This is the first time that Radford University has had the privilege of hosting this terrific event," President Kyle said. "Tonight I see 800 exceptional young men who, through hard work and civic leadership, have created their own opportunities; young men who are inspired to serve their communities, our Commonwealth and our nation as the next generation of leaders."

Boys State delegates with Virginia legislators

Among the week's activities for Boys State delegates is an opportunity to meet personally with Virginia legislators and other officials. (Photo by Andrew Wilds.)

In addition to the president's remarks, the Boys State participants heard a keynote speech from retired Navy Rear Adm. William Cobb, who asked the attendees to return home to their communities after Boys State and set examples of good citizenship and pride in their country. Cobb attended Boys State Virginia in 1962 and represented the Commonwealth at Boys Nation.

The state's top administrators will address attendees through the week, including Speaker of the House of Delegates William Howell on Monday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling on Wednesday and Governor Bob McDonnell on Thursday.

President Penelope Kyle with Bob Sussan

President Kyle accepts an honorary Boys State polo shirt from Bob Sussan. (Photo by Andrew Wilds.)

The American Legion Department of Virginia began talks with Radford University in late 2012 about bringing Boys State to campus. After an initial meeting with President Kyle and members of her staff, Boys State of Virginia Director Mike Harris was confident he had found the right venue.

"I told my wife we just found a home," Harris said in recalling those meetings. "They understand patriotism, service and pride. You can count on it. We're going to Radford."

During her welcoming comments on Sunday, President Kyle expressed appreciation for RU's opportunity to host Boys State. "I want to express my thanks to the entire Virginia Boys State team for allowing Radford University to host this longstanding and much admired event. We are keenly aware of the tremendously positive influence this program has for young men who will be among our Commonwealth's future leaders."

Boys State delegates

Boys State delegates open a session with the pledge of allegiance.

In addition to speeches from holders of Virginia's high offices, Boys State participants will participate in a variety of activities that reflect the rights, privileges, duties and responsibilities of a citizen. The training is designed as an objective, nonpartisan examination of the U.S. system of government. Activities include mock legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies as well as music and recreational programs.

Participants in Boys State are exemplary high school juniors who are selected by local American Legion posts to attend on the strength of their academics, leadership abilities and citizenship. In many cases, expenses associated with attending this program are paid by a sponsoring American Legion Post, a local business or other community-based organization.

The 71st American Legion Boys State of Virginia will conclude on Saturday, June 22, with a final ceremony that will include awards and recognitions, an address by Harris and a grand finale performed by the Boys State Band and Chorus. See more photos on Facebook.

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Jun 17, 2013
Dan Waidelich
(540) 831-7749