72nd Virginia Boys State comes to a close at RU

With cheers of "faithfully we serve," the young men of the 72nd American Legion Boys State of Virginia ended their visit to Radford University on June 21.

Over the course of a week, nearly 800 male high school juniors from around the Commonwealth immersed themselves in the principles of government. They participated in mock legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, chorus and recreational programs.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was one of several guest speakers who visited Boys State. The governor took the stage on Thursday, June 19, to share his vision for Virginia and thoughts on the importance of civic duty.

"I want Virginia to be the best," McAuliffe said, to applause from the audience. "The economy is booming. We're in very good shape, and Virginia is open and welcome to everyone."

In his speech, the governor noted the amazing opportunities available to youth who take part in leadership programs, such as Virginia Boys State. He also shared the story of his first business – a pavement and tarring company – that he started as a teenager. From fixing a long-dead dairy truck to haul his equipment to employing a full work crew, the venture was a risk, fraught with chances to fail.

"You have to take chances when you're young," McAuliffe said. "You don't always succeed but you've got to try. Never be afraid of failing. That differentiates leadership."


2014 Boys State participants

Boys State attendees also received a visit from Attorney General Mark Herring and participated in a video conference with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. General Assembly members, judges and law enforcement officers made appearances during the week.  

"I feel really honored to be in the presence of the governor and all these visitors," said Jacob Shusterman of Fairfax. "It's very beneficial to hear about what he does in person and what is going on in the state."

As part of the week's events, elections were held to simulate the political process. Participants voted for Boys State offices, such as delegates, senators, judges and mayors.

During the last of these elections, the highest officers in Virginia Boys State were announced: Harrison Walker of South Boston as governor, Thomas Cannella of Poquoson as lieutenant governor and Cayhan Movaghari of McLean as attorney general.

Matt Honecker, of Chesapeake, said he was glad he got the opportunity to learn more about the political process and participate in it. "I'll pass this experience on, and what I've learned here, when I leave because this is a really great opportunity to understand my state," he said.

Boys State attendees are students who have successfully completed their junior year of high school and have at least one semester of high school remaining. They are chosen by local American Legion posts to attend based on outstanding qualities of leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty and service to their schools and community.

Jun 22, 2014