STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — Cities across the state aren’t the only ones preparing for elections.
The annual Boys State kicked off Sunday night on the campus of Mississippi State University. And candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and other offices kicked off their campaigns this afternoon. Elections are later this week.
More than 370 rising high school seniors are attending the week-long look at government, history and leadership.
It’s the largest group at Boys State in a decade.
“They learn about their government, local and state government. Everyone holds a position here. They are the future leaders of our country. These guys stay smart, they run for governor. It helps them on their college resume. It’s an outstanding program,” explained Boys State Chairman Don Cabrol.
State Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde Smith speaks to the students tonight.Governor Phil Bryant and Senator Roger Wicker are on tap Wednesday.
More than $100,000 in scholarships also are up for grabs.
Earlier Tuesday, looking out over his audience at Mississippi State Tuesday, state Rep. George Flaggs Jr. of Vicksburg told Boys State participants he felt Mississippi’s future is in good hands.
“All of you, every one of you, represent our future,” the District 55 legislator added as he advised the rising high school seniors of several characteristics he believes are keys to his success.
The university 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 and concludes at the end of the week.
Flaggs shared five “B’s” of his own success that may help others achieve their goals, as well. They include beliefs in God and yourself, and to be good, strong and determined.
As he encouraged the young men to be strong, he stressed that he wasn’t talking about physical strength. Instead, he urged them to stand strong against peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and other things that are wrong.
“If you sow a bad seed, you’re going to reap a bad seed,” he said. For every bad decision there is a consequence, but good decisions bring benefits, he observed.
“You can be any engineer, any doctor, anything, if you’re determined,” he continued. “I believe your attitude determines your aptitude. For those of you that face defeat, compete anyway.”
“Nobody gets to the top without starting from the bottom,” Flaggs, a Warren County youth court counselor, reminded the crowd.
A 26-year House of Representatives member, Flaggs recently announced his retirement to seek–and win–the Democratic Party primary in Vicksburg’s mayoral race. He faces independent Darryl Hollingsworth in the June 4 general election.
In the House, he has been chair of the Corrections Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Banking and Financial Services, Constitution, Legislative Budget, and Rules committees, among others.
Past chairman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, he is a graduate of Jackson State University and Hinds Community College. Additionally, he is a former member of Vicksburg’s Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.
He is affiliated with the Wisemen, Toastmasters and Optimist clubs, and is a member of the Board of Deacons at Mount Heroden Church.