UM hosts 2002 Boys State

The 2002 session of the American Legion’s Alabama Boys State was held recently at the University of Montevallo and included 682 youngsters selected as leaders by their respective high schools.

This year marked the 65th session of Alabama Boys State, which began in 1937, as well as the eighth year the event has been hosted by the University of Montevallo.

Alabama Boys State has been under the direction of Jefferson County Drug Court Presiding Judge Pete Johnson of Birmingham for the past 19 years. Its purpose is to provide delegates an opportunity to learn more about government, leadership and citizenship.

The creation of the Boys State Program is credited to Hayes Kennedy, who in 1935 was an instructor at the Loyola University School of Law in Chicago and Americanism Chairman of the Illinois Department of the American Legion.

He became concerned about a project in the 1930s called the &uot;Young Pioneer Camp&uot; promoted by Nazis to attract high school students and to advocate fascism, communism and the &uot;uselessness of democracy.&uot;

The Illinois department of the American Legion approved Kennedy’s project, and in June 1935, the first Boys State in the nation was held on the grounds of the Illinois State Fair.

Events at this year’s Alabama Boys State included a bus trip to Montgomery to tour the state capital, a picnic lunch with Alabama Girls State on the capitol grounds and sessions with legislative and interest groups; a bus trip to Montevallo for barbecue at The American Village where students enjoyed a concert by fellow Boys State delegates and a flag retirement ceremony conducted by District 21 of the American Legion Department of Alabama; a MADD Victim Impact Panel; an awards ceremony; and graduation.

Speakers included Don James, chief executive officer of Vulcan Materials; Attorney General Bill Pryor; State Treasurer Lucy Baxley; Dr. Robert McChesney, president of the University of Montevallo; Justice Tom Woodall; and State Auditor Susan Parker.

Shelby County participants in this year’s event included: Bradford Acton of Briarwood Christian School; Arthur Agee, Beaumont Brackeen, Aaron Fant and Bruce Finklea, all of Shelby County High School; Andrew Brashier of Pelham High School; Michael Burns of Oak Mountain High School; Michael Childress of Shelby Academy; Gary Goggins of Calera High School; Carl Maguire of Montevallo High School; Gavin McGuire and Jason Rushing of Thompson High School; Jason Milam of Coosa Valley Academy; Chad Quinn of Vincent High School; and Waymon Rasco III of Cornerstone Christian School