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MILAN: American Legion helps to send Milan students to Boys and Girls State programs

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

By Joyce Ervin
For Heritage Media

Compliments of scholarship funds provided by American Legion Post 268 in Milan, four Milan High School students attended Boys State held this past June on the Midland campus of Northwood University.

Boys state is an educational program that allows young men to learn how their government works by taking active part in the political process.

The boys - Jeff Murtonen, Brendon Ray, Mark Evans and Jason Sell - attended and each found their political niche. Evans would like to pursue a career in law enforcement, so he ran for the office of county sheriff and was pleased to win. His duties, he said, were primarily administrative, and he was given the responsibility to cut $12-million dollars from the budget.

Evans said communication and negotiating skills were needed to deal with the mock union heads and personnel. He had to cut staff and sell off old equipment to help him successfully make the cuts and add a surplus $200,000 to the budget. Speaking to the complexity of the position, Evans said, “The job of county sheriff is underrated.”

Sell was pleased to report that he occupied the  position of House Majority Leader. He got to rap the gavel finalizing house legislation with a Pringles can, as a gavel was not available. He said he worked on legislation to reform welfare and sent the house bill to the senate only to have the bill filibustered.

Though Sell didn’t see the passage of the bill, he said he learned much about the importance of communication and the process of politics. That experience let him know he would not be running for office.  Sell said politics and the business it entails was too stressful. Instead, he is going to seek a career in international affairs and hopefully work for the United Nations or the state department.

Senior Katie Sabo attended Girls State at Northwood and she learned a great deal about her government.  She and her group was responsible for writing legislation to procure funds for rebuilding after a mock terrorist attack. She also was involved in interest groups that worked on discussions for proposed legislation on the topics of women’s rights and  mandatory drug sentencing.

There was nothing but high praise for the program from all of the participants. Sell said he was waiting on information to send a thank you to his American Legion sponsor, James Early, and he recommends the program to everyone. 

All of the students commented how good and plentiful was the food they were served.  Sabo said, “It was a fun learning experience,” and her classmates agreed.

For information on the Boys State program, visit michiganboysstate.org or email support staff counselor, Mark Rodan at rodanm@milanareaschools.org.

Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer for Heritage Media.  She can be contacted at:  jlervin42@yahoo.com