80th annual Boys State visits Grand Valley

courtesy / bigrapidsnews.com

courtesy / bigrapidsnews.com

McKenna Peariso

Ever wonder what goes on at Grand Valley State University after students have left for the summer besides construction? GVSU hosts several clubs and events on its campus throughout the summer months. During the last week of June, Grand Valley was chosen as a venue for the 80th annual Boys State sponsored by the American Legion.

Boys State is a non-partisan, non-political government exercise that combines classroom work, lectures and group projects. High schoolers from all over Michigan took part in this week-long program where they learned leadership skills, practical citizenship and the democratic process. This past Boys State saw a turnout of more than 250 student participants. 

Michigan Boys State chair of the board, Mike Stoll, oversees the program staff, curriculum and day-to-day operation. Stoll is also an academic adviser in the Kirkhof College of Nursing. Stoll believes the Boy State event teaches the participating seniors many valuable skills. 

“For 80 years, Michigan Boys State has provided young men the opportunity to build friendships with people around the state, develop leadership skills and, most importantly, learn more about themselves,” Stoll said.

Through the program, students experience democracy through an imitation model state that mirrors the structure of a respective government. Students are elected and appointed to roles so they can experience how democracy works in action. Boys State intends to instill character, patriotism and the importance of civil engagement. 

“This week-long government simulation offers students the opportunity to work together to solve real-world problems and truly is a week that shapes a lifetime,” Stoll said.