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American Legion Boys State offers scholarship, learning opportunities

By Sue Sitter - | Apr 3, 2021

Rugby area high school juniors and seniors will have a chance to learn about their state Legislature and earn scholarship money June 13-18 at North Dakota Boys State, a program sponsored by the American Legion.

The American Legion Rugby Clarence Larson Post 23 will sponsor local high school juniors and seniors to attend the program at Wahpeton at the North Dakota State College of Science.

Participants in the program attend and organize a mock session of the North Dakota legislature, writing bills, enacting laws, campaigning for office and holding elections.

The event includes a scholarship opportunity sponsored by communications company Samsung. The scholarships, awarded in amounts from $1,250 to $10,000, are given to selected students who will be seniors in the 2021-22 school year and are direct descendants of wartime U.S. military veterans who served on active duty.

“That could be your grandfather or your dad, for example,” said Rugby Post Commander John Gustafson.

A statement at www.ndboysstate.org read, “As of 2019 the Samsung American Legion Scholarship has awarded more than $6.5 million in college scholarships to 2,266 applicants since its inception in 1996.”

“Scholarship applicants must complete and submit their online application prior to 11:59 (local time) of Day 1 of their respective American Legion Boys State or American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program,” the website said.

Additionally, the program offers three scholarships in amounts between $100 and $250 to randomly selected participants at the end of the week, according to the website’s information.

The Boys State program scholarships are available to students who apply by the last Friday in April and plan to attend colleges or universities in North Dakota only.

All scholarships are available to incoming seniors only, however, students who completed their senior year in 2021 can attend Boys State, according to Gustafson.

Seniors elected governor at Boys State will not be eligible to attend Boys Nation, an event where participants learn about national government in Washington D.C.

The program also offers an opportunity to earn high school credit, according to the website.

“The ND Department of Public Instruction has approved ND Boys State for high school credit. Upon completion of the week, students are given information they can return to their local high school for administration by the school district,” information on the website read. “While the DPI has approved ND Boys State for .25 or .5 credit hours, actual application of credit is determined by the local school district and not at the discretion of the DPI or ND Boys State,” a statement on the website said.

Gustafson said Rugby students have not been active in the program in recent years.

The last governor at Boys State from Rugby was Paul Prestus, who was elected in 1962.

“I think this is a tremendous opportunity to meet other kids and to interact with other kids and in some cases, form lifelong friendships,” Gustafson said. “With today’s communications, it doesn’t matter if you’re from across the state or someplace else in the world. You can make those connections.”

“Plus, the idea is to actually understand a little bit how our system works, how our legislation works,” Gustafson said. “They learn this by going there and writing bills, forming bills, trying to get bills passed, lobbying for bills and running for office.”

“If you’re running for office, you’re going to develop signs, flyers and campaign and make speeches in front of other people,” he added.

“It will help round them out a little bit more than high school has been able to do,” Gustafson noted.

“Everybody I’ve talked to who lives in Rugby who has attended Boys State has had nothing but good things to say about it,” Gustafson said. “And of course, you go on the website and get personal testimonies of people who went recently. They say, ‘I was kind of hesitant but it was one of the greatest decisions I ever made in my life going to Boys State.'”

More information and application forms for Boys State are available at www.ndboysstate.org. Information is also available from Gustafson at 681-9329, or Julie Sjol, Rugby High guidance counselor at 776-5201.

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