AUSTIN, Tex. – The American Legion, Department of Texas today announced that Luis Castillo of Mason High School, Mason, Texas has graduated from American Legion Boys State, Department of Texas, better known simply as Texas Boys State.
Begun in 1935, Boys State is a unique program that educates future leaders about government, civics, and patriotism in a “learn by doing” environment. Each delegate has just finished his junior year of high school and was hand-picked by teachers, counselors, and local American Legion posts throughout Texas to attend this one week seminar.
During the week, the delegates were evenly split into fictional parties of the Nationalist and Federalists. Each party drafted party platforms, elected party officials, nominated candidates via primary elections, and contested a general election against the rival party and its candidates. The delegates ran for many kinds of offices including state, district, county, and city offices. The highlight of the week for those elected to the Texas Boys State House of Representative and Senate was when they were seated in the chambers of the Texas Capitol and allowed to craft, debate, and vote on mock legislation.
This year the delegates heard from more than 50 distinguished speakers, ranging from State Senators Eddie Lucio, Jr. and Royce West, to State Representative James White, to former Vietnam P.O.W. Ken Wallingford. Other keynote speakers were former CIA officer James Olson and Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez, Jr.
Texas Boys State concluded on Friday, June 14, with a morning parade from the University of Texas at Austin campus to the Texas State Capitol. After the parade, the delegates toured the capitol, visited the offices of their state senators and representatives and were addressed by Governor Rick Perry.
For more information on Boys State, visit www.TexasBoysState.com.
The following is a thank you letter from this year’s delegate, Luis Castillo:
In the 2014 Texas Boys State program, I had the opportunity to build on my knowledge about local and state government. This amazing experience has taught me to stand up for what I believe in and stand by my beliefs no matter who is challenging you. Over the course of this journey, I have learned that you don’t have to be great to start, you just have to start to be great. I was inspired to run for a state-elected position and put myself out there. I never would have thought that I would be so inspired to come out of my comfort zone and attempt such a large task. Although I was unable to assume office, I have not only become a better leader but a better public speaker as well. I would rather leave with some “oh wells” instead of “what ifs”. Because of these life changing experiences, I went from hardly being able to speak in front of a small group of people to comfortably speaking in front of nearly five hundred individuals. Texas Boys State is a unique and self-inspiring program and I am very grateful to have attended. During Boys State, I had the opportunity to listen and learn from some very important individuals in the political world. I was able to experience the way of politics from heated debates to the long drawn out process of passing a bill. I was also privileged to acquire many new friends that I will forever be in touch with.
I can honestly say that Texas Boys State is the most beneficial program I have ever been a part of and I am proud to say that I have left with a mind full of memories and knowledge that will forever serve its purpose. Thank you to the American Legion Ft. Mason Post 285 for the opportunity and to the Mason County Republican Women organization for their generous donation towards my expenses.