Governor visits successful 73rd Virginia Boys State
The cheers of the young men of the 73rd American Legion Boys State of Virginia have spread across the Radford University campus, marking another rousing success for the program.
Over the course of the week, nearly 650 male high school juniors from around the Commonwealth have 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 June 25, to share his vision for Virginia and let attendees know what Boys State means to his governorship.
"The highlight is coming to Boys State every year for me, folks," McAuliffe said. "It's because I know I'm in a room with civic activists, a room with a future governor of Virginia and, probably, a future president of the United States."
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.
"Think big, be bold, take chances and don't be afraid to fail," McAuliffe said.
Boys State attendees also received visits from Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring. Several General Assembly members, members of the governor's cabinet, judges and law enforcement officers made appearances during the week as well.
Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle also joined the celebration, attending the Boys State welcome ceremony earlier in the week where she encouraged attendees to make the most of their time on campus.
"There are many events in life that you go through and you don't realize that it is something you will never forget," Kyle said. "This week is one of those. It will have such an impact on your life."
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: Javon Calloway of Lynchburg as governor, Oakley Mize of Henrico as lieutenant governor and Harry Young of Henrico as attorney general.
Young said he was glad he got the opportunity to learn more about the political process and that he was impressed by his fellow attendees. "Everybody here is a leader. You wonder if you're a big fish and this is like getting dropped in the ocean," he said.
Mize agreed and said that the visiting politicians, speakers and guests made an impact.
"Everybody has been just such a role model here," 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. This is Radford University's third consecutive year hosting Virginia Boys State.