On Wednesday evening, the American Legion Post 25 hosted a dinner for local youth — boys and girls — chosen to attend this year’s Buckeye State program.
The night consisted of a dinner — chicken or baked steak, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, rolls and cookies — speeches from each youth present at the dinner, recognition of sponsors of the program who were present, and information on the programs.
Paul Sands, chairman of the Buckeye Boys for American Legion Post 25, explained the program went well along with the dinner to bring together the participants and sponsors.
Debbie Carr, one of those in charge of the local Buckeye Girls State, said that this year’s Buckeye Girls State was held at the University of Mount Union in Alliance from June 13 through June 19. There were 413 delegates that completed the program with four of the delegates being from Fayette County.
The four local ladies chosen for Buckeye Girls State were Mary Gerber and Joshalynn Worth from Washington High School, and Kandice Mathews and Hidy Kirkpatrick from Miami Trace High School.
Kirkpatrick was unable to attend the dinner as she was taking part at FFA camp. According to Carr, Kirkpatrick was the Director of Public Service for Junge City at Buckeye Girls State — meaning she oversaw engineers that worked in public services.
Mary Gerber was unable to stay for the duration of the dinner but shared a little information about herself with the Record-Herald. She will be a senior at Washington High School this upcoming school year. She has participated in 4-H with many leadership roles. Gerber enjoys various activities, especially kayaking. She plans to study law in the future.
“I was a public defender in Buckeye Girls State, so I really got a lot of experience with it and was excited. I really enjoyed it, and I got a sense for that job, and I’m thinking about being a public defender,” said Gerber.
Mathews spoke about people they were able to meet and get to know that will always stick with her. She was a city engineer which helped her get a feel for what she could potentially do in the future, as an engineer is a profession she is considering.
A fun memory she shared was that they had to take a bar exam. The first time she took the exam, she failed. Some of the ladies she met assisted her with studying and she was able to pass it the second time.
Worth thanked everyone who sponsored them to go as it was “a really fun experience to get to see how everything operated, how hectic everything got, and how exhausted at the end of the day you were.”
Worth also noted it was special to meet many other ladies who had similar interests as her.
After the ladies gave their speeches, the young men chosen for Buckeye Boys State were instructed, when giving their individual speeches, to share their name, introduce their parents or guardians in attendance, and then to share a little about their experiences.
There were 15 boys in attendance at the dinner who attended Buckeye Boys State. Those boys present included Zach Smith and Gabe Pickerill, Washington Court House students Mac Miller, Charles Wightman, Ryan Elrich, Oma Patel, Drew Ferguson, Luke Rader, along with Miami Trace students Anthony Langley, Connor Collins, Drew Black, Kaden Tyler, Logan Johnson, Noah Perry, and Jayden Brown.
The majority of boys thanked those who sponsored them or the Legion, and recommended the program to future students. There were many memories shared pertaining to making new friends and trying to “take over” the government. Several laughs and inside jokes were shared with the crowd in attendance.
Sponsors of Buckeye Boys and Girls who were present included: Glenn Rankin representing the Fayette County Historical Society, Tracey Owens representing the American Legion Riders, Jim Garland representing the Fayette County Commissioners, Fayette County Treasurer Susan Dunn, and several members of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary.
When sponsors were asked for comments, Dunn said, “I’m just glad that the kids can go and see what government is. It’s not easy, but at least they get some ideas of what they can do, and maybe they’ll want to be a local elected official.”
Garland said, “All the boys — their stories — I’m new to that. I read in the (news) paper every year what it is, and I think it’s fantastic that you guys sponsor these local (students). I’ve been in government over 30 years myself like Susan. It’s very interesting — we love it or else we wouldn’t be doing it.”
Also recognized during the dinner was Siara Eggleton who was a local winner of the Americanism and Government Test at state level.
The Americanism and Government Test program is only done in the state of Ohio and is sponsored by both the Ohio American Legion and the Ohio American Legion Auxiliary. The program was created by Legionnaires of Ohio in 1936.
According to Edward Helt, chairman of the Americanism and Government test program, there has not been a state winner from Fayette County for several years.
In order to be a state winner, Eggleton first took the local test which all local sophomores, juniors and seniors are eligible to take. It is a 50-question test made up of True/False, multiple choice, and fill-in the blank questions. An essay must also be done. Each school has a winner with the highest test score. The male and female with the highest test score from each grade out of the county are the county winners — meaning there are six total county winners.
Then there are district winners.
According to the Ohio American Legion website, the State Judging Committee then selects 18 winners — three men and three women from each grade, with 18 state winners overall.
The State Award from the Ohio American Legion for the state winners is a five-day, all-expense paid trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. which was taken earlier this year.
Eggleton is a recent graduate of both Miami Trace High School and Southern State Community College. She plans to attend Ohio State University. In the past, she has been a school and county winner with this year being the first time she won state.
Eggleton explained the trip encompassed visiting special places but also getting to know many people from different areas of Ohio, including another person who would be attending OSU.
She said, “this is an opportunity that many people never get. Which is why I cannot thank the Legion enough for continuing to support and provide this opportunity.”
For more information and photos of the trip that was taken, visit www.ohiolegion.com/about/committees/americanism/.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.