MB Legion honors Girls/Boys State participants
Thursday night the Medicine Bow American Legion Post 64 (Post 64) and their Auxiliary honored four students the organization sent to Boys and Girls State.
The dinner, held at the Medicine Bow Senior Center, gave attendees a chance to hear the experiences of the girls and boy sent to the governmental learning program that begins the third week of June.
Both Boys State and Girls State are programs run by the American Legion family with Boys State being sponsored by the Legion and Girls State being held courtesy of the Legion Auxiliary. Students are awarded the opportunity to go the the camps by applying to their local American Legion.
The programs are set up to teach students how government works, with those selected being divided into groups or “cities” from which those participating can be elected into various positions including councilpersons, supreme court justices, mayors, city commissioners and the like.
During their stay at the camps–Boys State was held at the Douglas Fairgrounds this year, while Girls State was at the Laramie county Community College in Cheyenne–participants draft and debate legislation, learn public speaking skills, participate in all phases of running a working government and meet other students from across Wyoming.
During the state camps, the students also were treated to hearing from various elected and appointed state officials including Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and State Representative Liz Cheney.
Those selected to go to the Legion events were Morgan Kenneda, David Freeman, Liz Ellis and Ana Latorre.
Kenneda, daughter of Dawn and Ryan Kenneda, was the first to speak Thursday night.
The home-schooled senior who is involved with 4-H, Hanna-Elk Mountain-Medicine Bow High School (HEM) basketball and the Laramie Community Band thanked those at the dinner for the opportunity to both go to and learn from Girls State.
She also thanked the group for the various gifts sent to her group and noted that the items were amazing adding, “There was a small flu going around Girls State and that night I actually got a bottle of hand sanitizer. So we passed it around our city and I put it in my bag used it throughout the week.”
Kenneda recounted at the start of the week those interested in being caucus leaders were required to give an impromptu speech “right now.” Saying that though the speech was just okay, she went on to say she got more comfortable speaking over the course of the week.
Kenneda spent her time at Girls State in the Senate and said she was impressed with the group’s ability to debate different aspects of legislation, despite differing opinions.
Liz Ellis was surrounded by her parents, Mike and Rita, sister, Emily and aunt County Commissioner Sue Jones as she got up to speak at the dinner.
HEM Senior and president of the HEM FFA Club, Ellis spoke on her experiences at Girls State including getting up very early, attending meetmeetings, attending more meetings and turning in early.
Ellis’ said that her favorite experience was when governor Mead told the girls that it’s okay to be cynical, but you needed to go fix what you thought was wrong.
Ellis also thanked those at Thursday’s dinner for the gifts her group was given by supporters saying that she was “almost embarrassed” because other “cities” hadn’t gotten as much as her group had. Ellis added that her group shared though and she learned a lot about how to get along with people who didn’t necessarily agree with her viewpoint during the weeklong camp.
David Freeman, who had parents Ellen and Dale Freeman there for support, spoke on what he had learned about the importance of the judicial branch of government.
The HEM Senior, who is a member of FBLA, FFA, the Speech and Debate team, the drama club and the robotics club, said though he previously didn’t think the legislative branch had much of an effect in government, Boys State had changed his mind.
Freeman drew chuckles at the dinner when he pointed out he ”definitely got a new perspective on lawyers” being appointed to be a Supreme Court Justice for Boys State.
Freeman also said he learned even more about the court when listening to the Wyoming State Supreme Court Justice who spoke during the week long event.
Rawlins High School senior Ana Latorre also attended Girls State, but was unable to attend the dinner as her and her family had recently moved to Arizona. Post 64 Girls State Chairman Dawn Kenneda said she had been informed that Latorre was planning to send a letter to the Legion detailing her experiences at Girls State.
After the dinner was done and the talks were given, Post 64 Commander Rex Rudd thanked everyone involved in sending the students to the learning program and those who had put the dinner together.