By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
Licking High School students Ryleigh Barton, Dawson Havens and Trevor Richards attended the American Legion and Auxiliary Boys and Girls State program at Lindenwood University in St. Charles.
Their attendance allowed them exposure to the rights and privileges, duties and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and practical, with city, county and state governments operated by the students, who are elected to various offices. Activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, chorus and recreational programs.
Barton was from the City of Pershing, and held a position in Commerce as State Director of Revenue (she collected taxes).
“I pushed myself in the leadership role, and academically. I enjoyed being with an extraordinary group of people. It was a humbling experience for me to work with a group of like-minded people who are just as capable and driven as I am; it was true competition,” Barton commented. “The reality of the program enhanced people skills for us, and participation in the group-based academics was a preparation for college life.”
Havens temporarily became a City Councilman for the City of Crowder. He enjoyed this experience in Campaign and Political Operation.
He concluded that he learned “how to be more of a leader as a City Councilman, how to designate responsibilities and then trust people to follow through.” Havens also recognized the importance of “maintaining respect for others while being a leader and working with a group.”
Richards, City Attorney, City of Richardson, said this of his legal tenure. “I worked at the city level in legal activities and was impressed with the true-to-life lessons. A story was created around a specific theme and the representation of the ‘case’ made things happen to a definitive end.” Overall he realized “that a person can be different, stand out and make things happen.”
Days began at 6 a.m. with lights out at 11 p.m., and they included hands-on experience; creativity while designing flags, athletics, campaigning, teamwork, community fellowship, classes, assemblies, attending appellate court and listening to speakers.
All three students agree that it was a good experience, very intense, with leaders working with other leaders. There was structure and a specialized focus, individually and as a group.
They concurred that after experiencing first hand the next generation of leadership, the best of the best and strong leadership in real life situations can make things happen in government.
Students selected for participation in the program rank in the top 10 percent of their class and show leadership attributes. An application is submitted to be eligible for participation.
Students had the opportunity to interview and apply for scholarships from several sources at the beginning of the program and were presented with scholarships at the completion of the program.
The intense program includes one 2-hour class each day with a test given at the end of the program. College credit is received for good grade performance.
All three Licking participants passed the final test and the first hand experience showed how, when given choices, people can work with and within government.
They now have the opportunity to attend the program as counselors for the program in the future, which many students choose to do.
American Legion Post #559 sponsored two boys and two girls from Licking. One of the girls was unable to attend.
Barton, Haven and Richards will receive medals and certificates from local American Legion #559 in the near future.