Post 555 sends five students to AL Boys State and ALA Girls State

Published 1:04 pm Friday, July 14, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM- American Legion Post 555 sponsored five students for American Legion’s annual Boys State and Auxiliary Girls State, from May 28-June 3 and June 4-9, respectively. 

American Legion Boys State was created back in 1935 by a professor from the Loyola School of Law in Chicago named Hayes Kennedy. Kennedy created the program due to his concern that youth were attending political rallies that would indoctrinate them with Communist or Fascist beliefs. Specifically, he was concerned with a program called the ‘Young Pioneers’, a youth organization that originated in the Soviet Union, spread to many socialist countries and made inroads into the U.S. during the early 20th century.

Kennedy hoped that a program like Boys State would instill the values of a democratic system into American youth and discourage them from embracing communist and fascist ideology. He would later go on to also found Girls State in 1937.

In the program, teens are first assigned to be part of either the ‘Nationalist’ or ‘Federalist’ party. Then over the next five days, participants experience mock elections, debates and campaigning, all of which serve to teach them about the democratic system and politics. 

Only 49 states maintain an ongoing Boys State Program, but all 50 have a Girls State. Many colleges and universities throughout the United States award past boys and girls participants scholarships.

This year Alabama’s Boys State took place at Troy University and was attended by four teens sponsored by Post 555. These boys were selected based on their character, leadership, moral conviction and work ethic. The boys sponsored by Post 555:

-Conner McDonald of Pelham High School

-Sloan Bridges of Pelham High School

-Christian Monk of Hope Christian School

-Owens Hodges of Mountain Brook High School

Girls State took place at Troy University a day after Boys State ended. Troop 555 sponsored Anna Mann, and during her time there, Mann was elected both city clerk and district judge.

“All in all, I would highly recommend Girls State to anyone with a true passion for leadership and government,” said Mann. “This experience opened many doors to new opportunities and taught me that the true meaning of leadership is more than a fancy title.  I would not trade my time there for anything.”