December 19, 2014  

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Annual American Legion Boys State Coming to Southern Miss May 29-June 4

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The American Legion Boys State returns to The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus May 29-June 4 to give rising high school seniors from across the state a unique, hands-on opportunity to learn how their government operates.

More than 275 delegates are expected to attend the 72nd edition of the program, which is being held for its second year at Southern Miss. The university will also host the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State the following week, June 5-10.

Participants will learn about political and legal systems at the city, county and state levels through hands-on activities in simulated government processes such as political campaigns, elections, the crafting of legislation and jurisprudence in the fictitious state of “Magnolia.” 

“Delegates get the opportunity to learn about local and statewide politics, the election process, and the responsibilities of these elected officials,” said Boys State Director Robert Murray.  

“The program is also unique in that it gives these young adults the opportunity of being on a college campus and getting a feel for the day-to-day activities that they will experience in the coming years, so we’re excited to be back for at USM. The campus is beautiful and provides us with the top facilities of a major university.”

State political leaders and candidates for public office will visit throughout the week, including a scheduled address by Gov. Haley Barbour on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Bennett Auditorium. Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, state Sen. Billy Hewes and U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, all Southern alums, are also scheduled to address delegates during the week, along with State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Attorney General Jim Hood, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, State Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney and State Treasurer Tate Reeves, among others.

In addition to choosing elected officials that mirror those in real life, Boys State will choose two delegates as senators for Boys’ Nation, who will travel to Washington D.C. later this summer for a similar program that focuses on politics and governance at the federal level.

Murray, a Bay St. Louis, Miss. native who was a Boy State delegate in 2003, said the program benefitted him both personally and professionally, which is his hope for those participating this year. “It has opened more doors for me that I can possibly explain, and I have met some of my best friends through the program,” he said. “I want these delegates to have the experience of a lifetime.”

For more information about American Legion Boys State, online visit www.msboysstate.com; for more information about American Legion Auxiliary Girls State, online visit www.missala.com/girlsstate.html; or contact David Tisdale at d.g.tisdale@usm.eduor 601.266.4499.