Boys State good political training
By Sara Gregory
Dillon Dunford’s campaign for governor was so exciting he said he slept only about four hours in the two days leading up to the election.
Wednesday, Dunford’s peers elected him the 69th governor of the Tar Heel Boys State.
“It’s a great feeling,” Dunford said shortly after the results were announced. “I’m trying to let it all sink in.”
Dunford, of Cullowhee, is spending this week with 242 peers from across North Carolina who are creating their own state government at Catawba College as part of the American Legion’s Boys State program.
“They change the way they look at government,” Director Charlie Cleary said. “They get very savvy about how things work in real life.”
Seven Rowan County boys were among those attending the program:
– Miles Jordan and Patrick Tempelton from Salisbury High;
– Jeremiah Boger from North Rowan High School;
– Brandon Ashley from South Rowan High School;
– Nate Lytle from West Rowan High School;
– Trevor Monroe from East Rowan High School; and
– Eathan Overcash from Carson High School
At Boys State, the boys, all rising seniors, are divided into two political parties, the Federalists and the Nationalists. Each party determines its platform and then competes for state offices.
The Rowan County boys said there’s definitely a good-natured rivalry between the two parties.
There’s also time to make friends. Federalists room with Nationalists, and everyone is encouraged to debate their views.
“I like just meeting all the people from all parts of the state and learning their views,” Monroe said, adding that he’s realized “it’s a lot more complex than I thought.”
The boys don’t spend all week deciding policy opinions on everything ranging from education to the environment. They have lighter moments, too.
There are athletic competitions, a band, talent show, Moot Court and an oratorical competition.
“We actually get to go against each other in politics, and then we get to go against each other physically in sports,” Boger said.
That friendship could come in handy later in life. Historically, many Boys State participants have gone on to careers in politics.
“A lot of these guys get to know each other really well and meet each other later in life,” Cleary said.