Vincent student elected Boys State governor

Daylan Woodall knows what politics is really about – shaking hands and listening to people. That’s how he got elected governor at Alabama Boys State, a leadership and citizenship program sponsored by the American Legion.

“Other people had posters and stickers and stuff. I didn’t do that,” Woodall said. “I tried to make personal connections.”

Woodall, a rising senior at Vincent Middle/High School, attended Boys State from June 1-7. He was selected as a representative out of his peers by VMHS faculty, said Sam McKissick, a VMHS social studies teacher.

“We wanted the best person to represent our school,” McKissick said. “We tell (faculty) to consider integrity and intelligence.”

For the week of Boys State, participants got a chance to see how government worked from inside the machine. Aside from the governor’s position, boys filled important state roles such as state treasurer, attorney general and Supreme Court justice, among others.

As governor, Woodall had to appoint a cabinet and then review bills that the Boys State assembly wrote and passed.

He said Boys State showed him there’s more behind the political curtain than people know.

“Boys State really gave me a more precise view of public service and of democracy,” he said. “Being governor affected my life because it gave me a leadership role and showed me how my decisions affected those around me and those under me.”

Woodall is currently in Washington D.C., attending Boys Nation, a gathering of delegates from Boys State chapters from all 50 states. Boys Nation runs from July 18-26.

Woodall said he plans to run for president at Boys Nation.

“I’m sticking with my philosophy of personal connections because it was highly effective at Boys State,” he said. “I’m really focused on what I’m trying to do.”

He said if he became president at Boys Nation, it’d help the wrongful perception that Alabamians aren’t intelligent.

“We are as competent and as capable as anyone else there,” he said. “Alabama is consistently ranked as among the lowest states in education, and we have a stigma that we’re not as capable.”

McKissick said Woodall’s decision to run for president at Boys Nation just shows his ambition and personal drive.

“It’s a bold move to step out, and I believe he can achieve anything he wants to achieve,” McKissick said.

The political experience at Boys State can act as an equalizer among high school students, McKissick said.

“There are people there from larger high schools, and we’re from a real working class community. But it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s not based on where you’re from or on how much money you have. It’s based on personal characteristics.”

Woodall said politics may have a place in his future beyond Boys Nation, but he’s not certain just yet. He’s interested in public relations or foreign affairs, and might find his way onto the Auburn University campus in fall 2009.