The 2023 American Legion’s Boys State Program for the state of Louisiana is being held at Northwestern State University the week of June 25 to July 1.
Two hundred eighteen young men from every corner of our state have converged on NSU to learn, hone their leadership skills, and have fun in this weeklong program.
The Boys’ State is an immersive learning experience sponsored by the American Legion. Louisiana’s Boys’ State has been in operation in its present form since 1960 and has been hosted at Northwestern State University since 2007.
The young men, all high school upperclassmen, have a busy week. They learn about government by a hands-on approach. They are divided into two political parties, develop platforms and policies, and run for office.
On Tuesday, June 27, the young men of Boys’ State met with some actual governmental leaders who took time from their duties to speak with them, answer questions and give advice.
Natchitoches’ own State Senator Louie Bernard, Mayor Ronnie Williams, District 6 State Representative Thomas Pressly, himself a 2004 Boys’ State alumni, Judge Don Johnson of the 19 JDC in Baton Rouge and T.J. Pittman, an Assistant District Attorney from Caddo Parish who also attended Boys’ State in 2013 spoke to the young men and fielded questions on everything from their careers to opinions on questions facing them in their positions.
Once elected, the citizens, as participants in the program are called, must deal with putting their policies into effect, often with additional situations introduced by staff members.
The program forces its participants to not only learn about government at the state and local level, but to grapple with policy and its implications.
Boys’ State and its counterpart, Girls’ State is a comprehensive education on citizenship and its responsibilities.
One of the more noteworthy features of the program is the young men who are alumni of the program and who have come back to serve as unpaid volunteer leaders. Two of these superb young men are from Natchitoches Parish.
David Thibodaux is a 2018 Saint Mary’s alumni who is working as a registered nurse in Baton Rouge. He is joined by Yancy Legrand, a 2017 Saint Mary’s alumni, who is working for the Louisiana Department of Economic Development.
In addition to a hands-on education in citizenship, every young person completing Boys’ or Girls’ State receives a scholarship to NSU worth $1,600.00 over 4 years should they choose to attend our university after graduation.
Cutline: State Senator Louis Bernard with Boys’ State Citizens