Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Catawba College News Service
Catawba College will host the 68th annual session of Tar Heel Boys State June 17-23. This is the fifth consecutive year that the weeklong event has been held on campus and approximately 250 participants, all rising high school seniors from North Carolina, are expected.
Sponsored by the American Legion, Tar Heel Boys State is directed by Roy Pressley of Waynesville, a past State American Legion Commander and a Boys State staffer for the last several years. Involving high school juniors who are academically in the top third of their class, the program is a weeklong practical study of the structure and operation of North Carolina state government. In a nonpartisan atmosphere, participants take a hands-on approach to learning how state and local governments function. Citizens, as the participants are known, develop an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship by creating and living under their own mock government.
During the week, citizens are grouped into cities as they organize their own local government, elect officers, prepare a city charter and conduct city activities.
Citizens also assume the role of a senator, representative or lobbyist to research and write bills for their legislature. Each citizen is also a member of a fictitious political party that will develop a party platform, campaign for party candidates and ultimately elect a slate of officers to govern.
Notable state leaders traditionally speak at sessions during Tar Heel Boys State. Past speakers have included the N.C. governor and lieutenant governor, the N.C. attorney general and secretary of state, as well as distinguished alumni from the programs.
This year, slated speakers include on Monday, June 18, at 10:10 a.m., a debate between Mark Hufford, the Western Political Director for the N.C. Democratic Party, and Andrew Brock, a N.C. Republican state senator; on Wednesday, June 20, at 1:30 p.m., Rowan County Commissioner Arnold Chamberlain and Rowan County School Board Chairman Bryce Beard will offer information to Boys State participants about their roles as elected officials in county government, while High Point City Council Members John Faircloth, Benita Sims and Bill Bencini will discuss their roles as elected officials in city government; and on Friday, June 22, at 10 a.m., N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall will address Boys State participants.
During the evening Friday, June 22, participants will entertain each other with a chorus concert, a band concert and a talent show. The week concludes with a commencement ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 23, in Keppel Auditorium.
Notable former Boys State participants include Catawba College Alumnus Phil Kirk ’67, chairman emeritus of the N.C. State Board of Education and vice president of external affairs for Catawba; professional basketball great Michael Jordan; and N.C. Governors Jim Hunt and James Martin. National program alumni of note include U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney, U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw and NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong.
For more information about Tar Heel Boys’ State, visit their Web site at www.nclegion.org/boysstate. Between June 17-23, contact Christopher Byrd, instructional coordinator for the program, on the Catawba College campus at 704-637-4216, or Tonia Black-Gold, Catawba College communications officer, at 704-637-4393.