Pubdate: Sat, 15 Jun 2002
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2002 The Star-Journal Publishing Corp.
Author: Cari Hammerstrom, The Pueblo Chieftain


One hundred and fifty-seven young male Coloradans conquered USC's
Belmont Residence Hall this week and formed the 51st state of the
United States of America. It is called Boys State.

Boys State, a program sponsored by the American Legion, is designed to
teach high school seniors governmental processes and honest politics.

Over the course of five days, the top students create an small-scale
state government from scratch, beginning with cities and counties. A
state government complete with a governor, lieutenant governor, state
senators and a party system is established and bills are even
presented and debated.

Students ultimately learn that they have a choice in their government
and it is what they make it out to be, said Colorado Boys State
Director John McCartney.

Boys State was founded in 1949 as a counteraction against youth Nazism
in Germany. The Nazi youth were taught to function solely for the
state, McCartney said, and Boys State was established to teach young
leaders that they may choose for themselves.

The young men chose their party platforms and topics for their bills.
Some are silly, but most are serious, said Boys State Lt. Gov. Nathan

Dern, a 17-year-old Evergreen resident, said that some of the issues
discussed were teen issues like the legalization of marijuana and the
ever popular motion to bring Boys State and Girls State together. More
serious issues revolved around homeland security.

"They try to encourage the seriousness, but allow you to have fun
also," Dern said.

Boys State is a positive learning experience that schools too often do
not provide in a civics class, McCartney said. It is learning by doing
and actively participating in politics.

In addition to understanding the structure and functions of
government, Dern said he found himself working better with people and
learning how to be a leader. As lieutenant governor, Dern's main duty
is facilitating senate proceedings.

With constant debate over bills, students also practice public

Boys State concludes today and the boys will come away with more than
a politician's savvy. They will go home with many friends.

"I've made too many (friends) to list," Dern said.

The Boys Nation senators from Colorado were announced at the banquet
on Thursday night. Each of the 48 Boys States sends two delegates.

John D. Deniston of Colorado Springs and Connor C. Wilson of Lone Tree
will travel to Marymount University in Arlington, Va., July 19-27 to
participate in the federal stage of this government-forming process.
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