Santa Barbara, Calif., June 16, 2016 — Five local youth are among the 1,000 male high school juniors in the state of California selected to attend the American Legion California Boys State 79th Session held at California State University in Sacramento from June 18-25.
Ector Flores and Calvin Schipper of Dos Pueblos High School and Cousteau Christopher, Alex Chicote and Pablo Do Prado Valladares of Santa Barbara High School were chosen from a competitive pool of local applicants.
A program of the American Legion, Boys State began in 1935 in Illinois to stress the importance and value of a democratic form of government and maintain an effort to preserve and perpetuate it.
Now held nationwide, participants come together for an intense week of hands-on leadership and citizenship training which focuses on the structure of city, county and state governments. They engage in a mock legislature mirroring that of the State of California and other political activities such as running for office, electing officials, drafting and debating bills and making motions.
“Their job is to construct government,” said Fred Cota, American Legion Post 49 Vice Commander and chairman of the local Boys State committee. “They learn to compromise and get along, to bargain and negotiate.”
Other activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, recreational activities, touring the capitol and meeting representatives.
“They come back inspired about making a difference in this world,” said Cota.
In order to apply, students must be recommended by a school counselor or teacher. Applicants are then interviewed by a committee. Delegates are chosen based on leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty and service in their schools and community.
Col. Phil Conran, Board Chair of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation was the primary interviewer in the screening process.
“I am amazed by the ethics and caliber of the applicants,” said Conran. “All of this year’s local delegates had a grade point average above a 4.0.”
Expenses of attending the conference are paid for by the American Legion Post 49.
A Girls State program is available for female students in California. The American Legion Post 49 and Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation are working together to offer this opportunity for local young women in the future.