Department Spotlight: Washington, D.C., Boys State program returns for second year

For the second straight year, The American Legion Department of Washington, D.C., will host its Boys State program this July at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters building. The program was reintroduced last year after a nearly 50-year hiatus.

“We’re excited about (the Boys State program), and I think we’ll do well this year. Our goal is to enhance this program every year so it gets better," said George Roundtree, Boys State director and department adjutant.

A small group of rising high school seniors from the area will participate in a series of informative discussions and question-and-answer sessions, as well as tour Capitol Hill and the Pentagon and hear presentations from staff members there. They will also visit a few embassies "to get a chance to see what the corporate world is about and different countries,” Roundtree said. “We have a vast population of people here in D.C. that the boys can (learn from). We want them to get a wide variety of what the community, the city is like.”

Last year during the program, the young men heard presentations from D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Sen. Michael D. Brown, D-D.C., and Ward 5 School Board Representative Mark Jones, and attended a session of Congress to see their lawmakers in action.

Roundtree said Boys State is an exemplary program as the young men learn about the democratic process and how the republican form of government works at the state and national levels. But for him, Boys State is not only a duty, it’s his passion. Having served in the military for 41 years, he said the program gives him a sense of purpose and calling to help other young boys.

“We’re going to let them get around and see what life is all about, other than high school,” he said. “We even teach them how to be mayors (through our) Mock Mayor program where the students will have a mayor and a council just like in the real world. So, it’s an interesting program and they will learn immensely.”

Washington, D.C., Boys State sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4:30 p.m. every day from July 10-14.

American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students. The American Legion believes that educating youth about the basic ideals and principles of government will help ensure the survival of this country’s democracy.

Boys State gives young men and women a lasting foundation for success, both personally and professionally, by:

• Developing leadership and pride in American citizens;

• Educating citizens about our system of government;

• Instilling a greater understanding of American traditions; and

• Stimulating a desire to maintain a democratic government process within the republic.

“The goal is to prepare them for college, prepare them for the world,” Roundtree said. “They get an advanced knowledge.”