The 79th-annual Buckeye Boys State is now a memory but it was “an experience that will last a lifetime,” according to the seven young men who attended the follow-up meeting with those who sponsored the attendees from Fayette County.
Buckeye Boys State is for juniors in high school and is a program of the Ohio American Legion and has been since 1936. It is held at Bowling Green University and is the largest Boys State in the nation with over 1,200 young men annually, representing nearly 600 Ohio high schools.
It is a stepping stone to prepare for a young man’s future by providing the experience of living in a college environment for eight days, learning leadership and management skills, and, forming friendships which may last a lifetime combined with hands-on experience in learning how Ohio government operates and functions. Each attendee lives in a “town.” The boys are mayors, law directors, city clerks, treasurers, etc., all jobs found in real city governments. Problems arise and solutions must be found; budgets must be met and all with the skills they have going into this opportunity.
The two Fayette County American Legion Posts are both sponsors for Buckeye Boys State and have been for decades. Legion Post 653 and Post 25 donate monies to send several boys to this program. It costs $300 to send one young man. According to Bill Holley, Past Commander and currently finance officer for Post 25, “We do this for the young men of our county so they have good leadership experience and we see it as a building stone for our future.”
Charles Harris, past Commander of Legion Post 653, agrees “with Bill about the potential for leadership experience,” but also believes “the parents of these boys deserve a lot of credit for starting these young men on the right road. These boys are the cream of the crop in Fayette County.”
It has just been recently that both American Legions have begun to reach out to the community in earnest looking for sponsors for boys to attend Buckeye Boys State. This year, two of the newest sponsors attended the morning breakfast follow-up meeting. Evelyn Pentzer, Fayette County Clerk of Courts and Kathy Templin, Fayette County Recorder, were present to hear the attendees talk about their experiences and also to hear some of the parents speak to the changes they have seen in their sons upon their return to Fayette County.
Scott Snyder spoke of “how rewarding the time was for my son, Dakota.” Rebecca Milstead spoke about what a powerful program it was for her son, Wesley, “to blend with boys from all over the state. Ohio is raising a high quality of boys and this opportunity to interact with others will impact them for the rest of their lives.”
According to sponsor Kathy Templin, “These boys have made Washington Court House and Fayette County very proud. You can count on me being a sponsor again next year.” That sentiment was echoed by Evelyn Pentzer with the added caveat that she “would like to see more elected officials get behind this program next year.”
Those boys who attended Buckeye Boys State, but were unable to attend the morning breakfast due to prior commitments are: Jacob O’Dea, Brody Morris, Riley Evans, Ethan Johnson, and Mason Walton.
For more information about The American Legion’s Buckeye Boys State in Fayette County, and how you can become a sponsor, please call American Legion Post 25 at 740-335-4990.
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