What is Boys/Girls State?

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What is Boys/Girls State?

Zachary Placek, Senior Editor

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Alliance High School has many opportunities during the school year that allow students to participate in various activities as well as the chance to meet new people and have new experiences. One such activity experienced by less than one percent of our student population is Cornhusker Boys/Girls State.

This past summer, Alliance sent three students to Lincoln, Nebraska to share “an experience that shapes a lifetime” with almost 800 other Nebraska high school students. Each student is selected to compete for a spot from their school to attend this program based on GPA and leadership in the classroom. This year, Hannah Middleton, Zachary Placek, and Darian Wilson were selected to participate in this extraordinary event.

Aside from the initial pool of students considered to have a chance of going to Boys/ Girls State, students must complete an interview with Alliance’s American Legion Post 7 or American Legion Auxiliary Unit 7. The interview covers basic knowledge of how our government works and allows the interviewers to get to know the kids whom they will send.

Boys/Girls State is for student leaders to meet with other students from across the state at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to run their own governments. From city council to the supreme court, Nebraska teens who just finished their junior year have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of how our government works, and the duties each branch and position has.

Darian recalled making a lot of friends during the week. “The girls I met were all pretty cool. We played Cards Against Humanity a lot and we all had kazoos because the girl running for Governor on our floor brought 300 kazoos. We played them everywhere we went,” she explained.

Hannah also became very close to a some delegates at Girls State. “Corrie Sasse has become my best friend, we talk every day. I still talk to all of the girls from my floor every day because we have a group chat,” she said when asked about who she met.

Part of the program is to allow students to run their own government. This begins the first night when each floor elects its own city government. During this time, positions like mayor and city council can be campaigned for and voted on. Throughout the rest of the week, positions on the county and state level are up for grabs.

The purpose of the programs is for participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. While attending Boys or Girls State, students are exposed to long days of learning and fun while attending seminars and participating in fun activities.

During the week long program, students are exposed to the UNL campus while staying in the dorms, eating in the cafeteria, and traveling across campus for seminars and activities.

While Boys and Girls State is running, the boys and girls attending do not see each other very much. Only a couple of times throughout the week did the two groups meet. Instances like these were called Joint Sessions, which allowed an opportunity for the different towns of Boys State to compete against one another to impress the girls.

Middleton and Wilson both agreed that the female motivational speaker at the second joined session is what made it their favorite. “She made me laugh and then she made me cry,” explained Hannah when she recalled the emotional stories the speaker told. “Yeah, she was pretty legit,” Darian added.

“Our floor sang the acapella version of Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede. We rehearsed our song late the night before and woke up a couple floors above us. We knew we had to be loud for the girls so we basically yelled the lyrics as loud as possible. We still sounded good, though,” Placek said as he commented on the joined sessions.

Nebraska is the only state to still run the Boys and Girls State Program during the same week at the same location. Knowing this and not letting them mix, the counselors of the programs partnered with UNL to give each program different opportunities to have fun.

Boys State attendees were given the options of newspaper staff, Boys/Girls State Band or Choir, or a sport from the list of volleyball, softball, basketball, or flag football. Zachary Placek played softball for the week, saying; “My team, Manila Bay, went undefeated in softball. We won the championship game and even got to play the counselors after and beat them as well. We played on a turf field, which was very slick but made each game more interesting.”

The Girl Staters also had the options of newspaper staff and Boys/Girls State Band and Choir, but they could also choose from service or media. Hannah Middleton explained a bit on her experience from her week in the Boys/Girls State Band; “Band was super fun, I had a solo and the director was super nice. It was a good experience all around”

Wilson gave a brief statement on her week in the joined choir, saying; “I was in the choir, but it honestly wasn’t that great because the director left a lot and we were stuck with the teacher’s assistant.”

Each student agreed that they had a great time at Boys and Girls State. Through meeting new friends, being away from home, and experiencing our government in a way that most students are not able to, these young individuals certainly had a week that shaped a lifetime.

“I definitely have more of an idea of what I want to do with my life now that I have experienced Girls State,” Middleton explained.

Each student’s week was unique to them. They all did roughly the same things, but what they got out of it was memories of fun, knowledge to help them in their future endeavors, and friends from across the state.

“It was pretty cool, I have made some good connections with girls in Lincoln and Omaha and prepared me for college dorm life as well,” said Darian.

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