Boys State participants from WLHS head to ECSU in June

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Wed., Jun. 12, 2013
Students from Windsor Locks High School will attend Boys State this month. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Six juniors from Windsor Locks High School have been chosen to participate in the annual week-long American Legion Boys State Program, which will teach them about the inner workings of American government. The boys will travel to Eastern Connecticut State University later this month to participate in law-making and leadership training.

“These boys, from all over the state of Connecticut, go to Eastern Connecticut State University and they form town groups,” said Edward Sobotka, the senior vice commander of the American Legion Post #36. “They elect a mayor and different officers of the ‘town.’”

The boys will be placed into one of two groups, the “Nationalists” or the “Federalists.” Once placed in one of the two parties, the boys experience mock city and state elections, party caucuses and conventions, speeches, platform committees, commissions and legislative committees.

Students will be faced with semi-fictional issues they need to resolve during the week. State Program Director David Greenleaf, a Boys State alumni himself, says the boys will be split into towns, and each town will have its own problem to solve. One affluent town will be seeking to protect its beaches, another town will be concerned with a new bus-way disrupting business practices, and yet another town is battling a garbage-polluted harbor.

“I hope they learn hands-on civics,” said Greenleaf. “They will learn public speaking and how to promote themselves. At the local level, all the towns have to deal with the state cutting back on their budgets.”

Notable for Windsor Locks residents, one of the “towns” will be dealing with an airport which creates a lot of noise pollution.

Oftentimes, local leaders attend during the event, such as the governor, senators and state representatives. This year, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, the mayor of Bristol, and James O’Brien, a District Court judge, will be speaking to the boys.

Windsor Locks has chosen six boys to participate in the program, some sponsored by local American Legions, and some by community organizations.

Attending the Boys State this year from June 23-27 are: Colin Eversdyke, sponsored by American Legion Post 0036; Brett Sherman, sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 6123; Steven Lucia, sponsored by the Windsor Locks Lions Club; Nathan Seaha, sponsored by Knights of Columbus Council No. 26; Joshua Lambert, sponsored by Republican Town Committee; and Rafal Besubik, sponsored by the Democratic Town Committee.

According to Windsor Locks High School, each boy must be a junior and U.S. citizen. They have to have maintained a B average or better, possess a cooperative attitude and exhibit good sportsmanship. They are also required to salute the American flag and participate in daily prayer.

The six boys were selected on the basis of their scholastic ability and interest by the high school administration. The local American Legion sponsors the Boys State program for Windsor Locks and is financially aided by civic organizations and local businesses.

About 220 students will be attending Boys State this year. “Most of the kids really enjoy it,” said Sabotka. “They stay in dorms and meet kids from all over the state.”

“I think one of the biggest things is the people that they meet,” said Greenleaf. He also has seen many students come back and really change how involved they are in their communities. “A lot of kids will go to Boys State not having a leadership position in their school, learn something, and they want to do something once they come back,” he said.

Greenleaf’s advice on how to prepare for the week is: “Read the newspaper, stay up on current events and get involved,” said Greenleaf. “They are not going to learn anything by sitting back and watching everyone else.”

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