MORRISVILLE, N.Y. -- Most public offices have a minimum age that a candidate needs before they can run, but the American Legion Boys' State program in Morrisville throws out those rules to let high school boys run their own state for one week. The program started on Sunday, offering over 1,000 young men, between their junior and senior year, the chance to experience elected offices.
The students run for positions from dog catcher to county executive, and even all the way up to governor for the Boys' State. They work together to create their own laws and legislative systems. Program organizers said the week is a great experience for teenagers interested in potentially serving in a public office.
"Hopefully it gets them involved in government, first of all. It also teaches them some leadership skills. They have to compete against boys who are in the top fifty percent of their classes. They all have to speak, they all have to sell themselves to the group that they're with, in order to be elected to an office," explained David O'Brien, Boys' State of New York Program Director.
The American Legion Auxiliary is running the similar Girls' State program this year in Brockport.