This past summer, four McKinney Christian Academy students, who had just completed their junior year, were identified and invited to attend the Texas Boys State convention for the American Legions in Austin. Our MCA students were sponsored by the Whitewright Post, and led by Vietnam War veteran Clinton Bass, Commander of Post 225.
The MCA students who attended were Tim Barker, Ben Bajema, Robbie Christopher and Hayden Wyatt. These boys were able to attend the event due to special funding the program received from Huffines Auto Dealerships, Nevilstone, Nordhaus & Walpole & the Whitewright Post.
Boys State is the American Legions Flagship program, started in the early 1900s. The National program has been attended by notable historic figures such as Rick Perry, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The convention this year was made up of 1,000 academically strong boys who show leadership, have citizenship skills and have an interest in government.
Chosen from schools across the state of Texas, each had their own talents and skill set. Housed in the University of Texas dormitories, the boys were broken into 2 political groups (Federalists and Nationalists) and then again broken into groups where they elected officials to create “mock cities”. Positions such as Mayor, District Attorney, County Commissioner, Governor etc. were secured in each city through elections within each city group.
When discussing the student who was voted Governor over all the cities, MCA student Robbie Christopher shared that he was impressed by the student’s “perseverance of going after the position he wanted”.
Robbie himself was voted County Commissioner of his city as well as a member of the Rules Committee. The boys were required to campaign for themselves, prior to the elections, for each position. Once in their roles, they worked with each other creating policies, election procedures, city rules, etc. Hayden Wyatt, voted Constable for his city, thought the electoral process was “quiet an eye opener”.
There were boys from different backgrounds and nationalities who attended the conference. Tim Barber, another MCA student who attended, said “In attending Boys State I realized how small my world is. I met so many people from different backgrounds, yet we were able to coexist and work together so well”. Ben Bajema, elected as the City Council Justice of the Peace in his mock city, shared that “it was great to see how much work you can get done when everyone is on the same page with a set goal”.
The boys also competed in athletic competitions, listened to keynote speakers such as a Former CIA agent, and had the opportunity to take part in a marching band. When they had free time, some would work on their campaign strategies and others had side meetings with their teams. The boys finished the week with a parade/march to the capital downtown Austin where they were able to attend a Senate Session where a bill was passed.
All 4 of the MCA students expressed that the experiences and memories they gained at Boys State, as well as the friendships they made through the process, will last a lifetime.
Story submitted by Rozalyn Payne