STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – There is a program under way all week on the campus of MSU geared at teaching some of the state brightest high school students about state and city government. Seniors from all over will learn the election process and the benefits of taking a leadership role in everything they do.
High school seniors from all over have come together on the Mississippi State University’s campus to learn about leadership and what it takes to run for a government office. The program is called Boys State and it’s all about building the boys of today into the men of tomorrow.
Tupelo High School Senior Joel Baldwin says, “There’s a lot of political learning going on, also leadership. We’re all learning how to get ahead in a groupn and lead them in the right direction.”
The participants had to be picked from there respected schools to be considered for the program. The idea is to give a hands on experience of what the election process is all about.
According to Desoto Central High School Senior Mitchell Embrey, “Most of us we’re not voting age, so we haven’t had a chance to experienced it. But here we get to experience it.”
Participants spent time campaigning for several offices including Governor, Mayor, State treasurer among others. With an election to be held amongst their peers, it’s a process that many didn’t really understand.
Embrey says, “The importance of state government and city government at the same time and how it all plays into together to effectively run this state.”
With over a 100-thousand dollars worth of scholarship money up for grabs, it wasn’t all about sitting in a lecture hall taking notes.
According to Biloxi High School Senior Collin Manuel, “I think the most fun for me has been the sports. Competition brings out the best in all of us. The food is really good here too I know that.”
This week high school seniors will learn a little about what the next step in life may be for them. With the largest class in over a decade with 370 participants organizers feel good about what the future holds for the state of Mississippi.
The Boys State program wraps up Saturday.
Recalling his own struggles with a learning disability and measuring the impact on his life of a teacher who helped him conquer it, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant challenged more than 380 Boys State participants on the campus of Mississippi State University to “stay here and help us” as Mississippi prepares to “achieve greatness.”
Bryant, the state’s 64th governor and a veteran state official, touted Mississippi’s leadership in aerospace engineering, music, medical breakthroughs and other fields in challenging the delegates to embrace their home state’s heritage.
After reminding his audience of the role the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County has played in space exploration through the facility’s testing capabilities, Bryant said, “I tell people that man may one day go to Mars, but that he’ll have to travel through Hancock County, Mississippi, to get there!”
Touting his administration’s success in getting key components of his “Education Works” agenda adopted by the Mississippi Legislature, Bryant told the delegates of his childhood struggle with dyslexia and how one of his teachers, Mrs. Hensley, saw past the problem to recognize his abilities and put him on a path that would one day lead him to the Governor’s Mansion.
“She told me that she knew I had talent and that I was capable of doing great things,” said Bryant, a native of Morehead. “More than most, I know the difference that one good teacher can make.”
Bryant also told the Boys State delegates about his pride in the state’s recent top 10 ranking in the American Legislative Exchange Council/Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, which measures state policies the group recognizes as creating a business-friendly outlook. “That positive economic climate helps us beat the ‘brain drain’ that takes as many as a third of our students to seek jobs and economic opportunity in other states,” said Bryant. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”
While citing the progress Mississippi has made, Bryant told the youth that “Mississippi has to work harder, get up earlier, and adopt a leadership style that values taking good to great.”
But in summing up his remarks to the delegates to a program that saw the governor’s son participate in a few short years ago, Bryant promised them that “Mississippi will achieve greatness.”
“I’m convinced that Mississippi is more about our future than it is about our past,” said Bryant. “When someone asks you where you’re from, take pride in telling them some of the things I’ve told you today about our great state.”
Prior to becoming governor, Bryant served one term as Mississippi’s 37th lieutenant governor after earning 59 percent of the vote in November 2007. He also served Mississippi as state auditor. Bryant was first appointed state auditor by former Governor Kirk Fordice in 1996, and then won re-election in 1999 and again in 2003.
The former deputy sheriff and insurance investigator served his Rankin County district in the Mississippi House of Representatives for five years.
MSU is serving through 2015 as host campus for the Mississippi American Legion Boys State. Considered the nation’s premier program for teaching how government works while developing leadership skills and appreciation for the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, the campus session began Saturday [the 25th] and concludes at the end of the week.