Rotary, Legion partner to send local students to Boys/Girls State

Dave Lein, Editor

REGION – Believe it or not, Rush Limbaugh and Bill Clinton have at least one thing in common – they both attended Boys State.

And politics aside, they were just two of the many familiar names – including rock stars (Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen), professional athletes (Michael Jordan, Hines Ward), head coaches, actors, artists, journalists, astronauts, governors, senators, presidents, business leaders and thousands of others – selected for the program back when they were in high school.

And now, a male and female student from Bellaire Public Schools and Central Lake Public Schools will have the opportunity to join this elite group – thanks to the Bellaire Rotary Club and American Legion Post 247 (in Bellaire). The service organizations are partnering to sponsor two juniors from both schools to attend Boys State and Girls State this year.

“As far as we can tell, this is the first time that the opportunity has been offered in our area,” said Gary Lockwood, of the Bellaire Rotary Club.

Cal Rix, also a Rotarian and member of American Legion Post 247, agreed.

“You can read a book or hear about it in class,” Rix said, “but learning about government through this type of hands-on experience is something else … and you carry elements from that experience with you throughout life.”

Lockwood and Rix should know; they are both Boys State “graduates.”

So, what’s so special about the program? Let’s start with a bit of background.

The American Legion started Boys State in 1937, offering select high school juniors the opportunity to attend a week-long program during which the students were divided up into cities. Within that structure students set up a state government, from the Governor and Supreme Court to all other units of government down to their own respective cities.

That process includes campaigning, elections and voting – leading to a fully functioning state government – where issues are discussed, bills written and debated, before flowing through the student legislature to possibly become law.

Along with the discussion and debates, a number of state officials visit Boys State to talk with the students and share about their own experiences in government. A day trip is also scheduled for all to visit the Michigan capitol and see the state legislature in action.

This year’s Boys State is scheduled for June 16-22 at Grand Valley State University in Allendale. The similar American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State will take place at the same time on the campus of Michigan State University.

Read the full story in our regular edition of The Review. To subscribe to the paper for just $34 a year, which includes access to our full online e-edition, please go to the subscription page on this website at:



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