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Boys State participants expected to lead
Mack McInnis and Andrew Boucher learned from Dirigo Boys State how to participate in local, state and federal government. Anthony Boucher also attended but was away at UMF Upward Bound program.
RUMFORD -- Three members of Mountain Valley High School Class of 2014 recently attended Dirigo Boys State.
Each had different expectations but all arrived home with clear goals for their participation in their town, state and federal government.
Anthony Boucher said, “I've learned how all of the members of Boys State are expected to lead, where ever they decide to live. I've come to accept this obligation.”
“Boys State makes you want to go to town meetings,” Andrew Boucher explained. “I’m 18 so I can vote. I’m also interested in getting involved with the school board.”
Mack McInnis added, “I learned a lot about parliamentary procedure. It’s a way to make sure everyone is heard and things get done.”
According to the Dirigo Boys State website, “The American Legion’s Dirigo Boys State program is a unique way for young men to learn about the American system of government and politics by participating in a mock governmental system designed to mirror Maine state, county and municipal government.”
The MVHS students clearly enjoyed learning through participating.
Anthony said, “Not only was I educated about state and municipal governments, I participated in it by campaigning, reviewing LDs, getting votes, and helping create my party's caucus.”
LD are legislative documents, the name for proposed laws as they make their way through the House and Senate.
“I ran for Governor and failed miserably,” Mack said. “Then I ran for the House of Representatives and won it.”
Andrew said, “I ran for House of Representatives and for municipal leader in my town. The municipal leader runs town meetings. I lost the municipal leader but got House of Representatives.”
“I ran for Senator and I won!” Anthony said. “I was allowed to review Legal Documents and make amendments to them!”
Mack chuckled about one law they passed. “Most of us were Bruins fans. We passed a law that allowed us to stay up late to watch the Bruins' final playoff game. Unfortunately, we were disappointed with the results of the game. ”
Each one had a favorite part about the five-day program.
Anthony explained, “My favorite part was the bonding everyone shared. I made all kinds of friends that I'll never forget. It changed me by saying that no one has the right to say that my ideas are inferior. I was inspired and I will now push my own ideas forward.”
“I liked having different speakers,” Andrew said. We heard from a war veteran, Congressman Michaud, and a lady from Maine House of Representatives. She was my favorite speaker.”
Mack added, “I liked creating our party platform. For the most part, we agreed on similar things. It gave us a chance to get comfortable speaking in front of a lot of people. The two platforms for the Nationalist and Federalist Parties were very similar.”
Andrew noted, “As the week went on, we avoided the topics we had differences on. Not unlike what happens in Augusta and Washington.”
An added highlight for both Anthony and Andrew was the Boys State Band. Andrew plays the trumpet and Anthony plays alto saxophone.
Andrew said, “We played in a really cool pep band. I knew there would be a pep band but I didn’t know they’d be that good. Some of they boys come from schools with a lot bigger than ours.”
It was obvious each young man returned with more confidence.
Anthony summarized for all of them, “I learned that I want to be remembered for my ideas, and I won’t let anything stop me from promoting them. I've also learned how to lead others in a manner that is fair and just.”
All were grateful to the American Legion who sponsors Dirigo Boys State. They wrote thank you notes to the local post.
Andrew said, “I appreciate what they did to let me go. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity!”
Based on what these young men said about their experience, the American Legion program created informed citizens with the knowledge and motivation to lead.