San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 24th, 2009
'State' legislators scheduled to speak

STAFF REPORT

Every year, the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary hold a gathering of selected high school students chosen from all over the state to participate in a practical application of the procedures of government. Five Hays County schools chose a total of 12 students to participate this year in either Boys State or its counterpart, Bluebonnet Girls State.

Those students will share their experiences during a program at the San Marcos American Legion Hall at 2 p.m. on Sept. 13. The general public is invited to attend.

Boy’s State was held June 6-12 at University of Texas in Austin. Girl’s Bluebonnet State was June 14-20 at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin. Boy’s State has been a national program of the American Legion since 1935.

Girl’s Bluebonnet state was implemented 50 years ago. The programs are government-in-action exercises for students who have completed their junior year of high school.

As Governor Rick Perry said in his remarks to the attendees of Boys State this year, “This experience is no mere summer camp where the inmates weave baskets, nurse sunburns and kill time until Parents’ Day.”

For example, Girls Bluebonnet State is an imaginary 51st state with cities and counties featuring all the personnel who run these governments. Each student gets a government office to contend with and understand. Every city has its own police chief, counsel members, municipal judges and other civic officials.

The cities and regions may have the spirited and amusing names coined by the vigor of youth like “Cupcakes,” “Hot Tamales,” “Fortunetellers,” and “Bananas,” but their democratic process is serious.

Participants in both Boys State and Girls Bluebonnet State learn the duties of the various civil offices, including state offices like Governor and Treasurer. They introduce and debate bills in a mock legislature, where they gain perspective in the practical operation of government. The program culminates with a visit to the state capitol building, where participants are given an opportunity to meet state officials.

The three young men who attended Boys State, all students at Wimberley High School, were Dolan Bakka, Austen Cabler and Connor Pickens. Their attendance was made possible by sponsorships contributed by Ingram Readymix, Inc. and the Wimberley Lions Club.

The young women attending Bluebonnet Girls State were Bonnika Ashley (Hays High School), sponsored by Texas Lehigh Cement; Meera Day (Lehman High School), sponsored by Seton Medical Center Hays, Eliza Jordan and Tess Allen (Wimberley High School), both sponsored by the Wimberley Lions Club; Katie Adams (Dripping Springs High School), sponsored by the Dripping Springs Breakfast Lions Club;  and Paloma Perez (Dripping Springs High School), sponsored by Pioneer Bank.

The San Marcos High School attendees were Grace Baen, sponsored by CenturyTel; Mariel Swinney, sponsored by San Marcos attorney Tom Garner; and Irene Morse, sponsored by Frost Bank. Morse was elected Attorney General of Girls Bluebonnet State and also had the honor of being one the 12 participants selected from the 503 in attendance as an “Outstanding Citizen of 2009.”

These young men and women represented San Marcos American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Post and Unit 144. For more information about Girls Bluebonnet State, contact American Legion Auxiliary President Pat Murdock at (512)353-1943 or Unit 144’s Girls State Chair Margie Villalpando at 512-353-1383. For more information on Boys State, call (512) 472-4138.

Famous alumni of the American Legion State programs across the country include Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Michelle D. Johnson, Michael Jordan, Mark Wahlberg and Neil Armstrong.

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