On Sunday, June 9, top high school students from hundreds of Minnesota’s high schools gathered at the Minnesota Boys State program at Southwest Minnesota State University for a weeklong program that teaches Minnesota’s democratic form of government in a unique and hands-on way. Sponsored by the American Legion, students just finishing their junior year spend one week on a college campus, where they join with their peers to form a mythical ‘state’ from local government to an entirely functional state government by week’s end.
This year, four local students attended Boys State: Todd Neumann and Ethan Thonn from Watertown-Mayer, Brandon Fabel from Norwood Young America and Brett Struthers from Victoria.
The program precisely mirrors Minnesota’s unique caucus political process to narrow down citizens at a local BPOU level on up to electing State Chairmen for each of two fictional political parties students are assigned to. Citizens are assigned to mock cities and campaign for office, eventually electing their own mayors, legislature and constitutional officers; a Boys State governor is elected at the conclusion of the week. Students publish a daily newspaper, participate in athletic tournaments, and play in a band and choir programs. Each year, the 49 Boys State programs in the U.S. select two Boys Nation senators to travel to Washington and meet with the President.
“No other program out there teaches youth about their system of government like this one, we are the only program to teach students about Minnesota’s unique political process,” said Mike Bredeck, Legion Member and program director. “Our participants go on to play an integral role in society and state and national politics decades after they leave campus.”
“Boys State is a hands-on, leadership building week that exposes students to our system of government and a college experience in the summer before their senior year.” said 2012 Boys State Governor Zach McFarland from St. Cloud. “Participants build a mock state government, building friendships and skills that last them a lifetime.”
Legion Posts from every corner of Minnesota raise money to sponsor students to Boys State, making it one of the most accessible and competitive program options for parents. Graduates of the program consistently attribute their future success to experiences they had at Minnesota Boys State