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UM To Host American Legion Boys State Next Three Years

The Woodville Republican of Woodville, Mississippi

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For the next three years, the University of Mississippi will host the American Legion's Boys State, which allows young men from across Mississippi to perform the duties of state and local governments during a week long event designed "to develop tomorrow's informed, responsible citizens."

Boys State is set for the week of May 29, 2016, and again in the spring of 2017 and 2018. Delegates will stay on campus and be able to take advantage of the many resources of UM's departments and programs. The young men will learn how city, county and state governments function through simulating those jobs.

"The citizenship instruction provided by Boys State to the youth of Mississippi continues to play a leading role in the identification and growth of our future leaders, and we are excited to be a part of that leadership development," Interim UM Chancellor Morris Stocks said.

Stocks said he is grateful to Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs, and her team in leading efforts to bring Boys State to UM. Hephner LaBanc said the university is the perfect setting for the event.

"We are thrilled about hosting Boys State and see it as another opportunity to serve Mississippians," Hephner LaBanc said. "We believe our campus will be a perfect setting for them to meaningfully engage, learn and become empowered leaders."

The Illinois American Legion created the program in 1934, and it was adopted by the national organization in 1945. The goal of the program is to show that democracy needs both an intelligent citizenry and also a moral, honest and impartial administration that is responsive to the will of the people.

The nonpartisan program is open to young men who are high school juniors and it is conducted each year across the country through each state's Department of the American Legion. It's estimated that more than 28,000 young men annually participate in the civic workshops.

The gathering is designed to be a virtual 51st state with a constitution, statutes and ordinances constructed by its citizens to govern themselves. Participants are required to review their knowledge about political workings of state and local government, but they also perform the same duties as actual officeholders in the real world.

"I am delighted that Ole Miss will host Boys State for the next three years," said William Gottshall, executive director of the UM Trent Lott Leadership Institute. "Boys State is known for developing young leaders within the state — a mission we share."

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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