BKW represented in state-wide leadership program

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

A select few: From left, juniors Thomas Fisher, Kyle Anderson, Nicholas Nagengast, and Thomas Payne, chosen for Boys State, stand outside of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Secondary School after greeting the school board on May 12.

BERNE — With the funding from the American Legion in Altamont behind them, four Berne-Knox-Westerlo students will head to Boys State, the elite educational program for studying government.

Boys State is run by the American Legion, a nationwide veterans’ organization, and uses an intense week-long course of activities with military supervision to train rising seniors to be leaders.

Four BKW juniors — Nicholas Nagengast, Thomas Fisher, Kyle Anderson, and Thomas Payne — are headed to Boys State in June. Formerly, BKW wasn’t represented.

A forceful legion member and BKW graduate, Ed Ackroyd, however, approached the school board this year about gathering candidates for the program. Four were selected as candidates, and Ackroyd inquired about their sponsorship opportunities at the American Legion in Altamont. Two could go. Then the legion riders offered to sponsor one student, and so did the Sons of the American Legion.

With backing for all four the BKW candidates, Ackroyd petitioned the county-level American Legion for a larger allotment of its 27 slots in the statewide program and got them.

“They said, ‘No, we’ve never heard of that before,’” Ackroyd recounted at the BKW school board meeting earlier this spring.

Ackroyd asked the four students to report back to the school board about their experiences when they return. He hopes BKW students will be selected for Girls State next year.

Students at Boys State form legislative bodies, hold court proceedings, and model city, county, and state governments, in addition to participating in sports and musical activities. They have full schedules for the week. Two students from each state are selected to go on to Boys Nation, a similar program that focuses on federal government, and has the students touring Washington, D.C., meeting the country’s president, and participating in their own senate.

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