Marion students Tallon Rood and Jennie Bristol addressed the Marion American Legion Post 1430 Past Commanders and Past Presidents Club annual dinner on Oct. 14 regarding their experiences while attending American Legion Empire Boys and Girls State. Both students conveyed that friendships were made, valuable lessons were learned and despite the rigorous scheduling fun was had. They also said there were some surprising reality checks throughout their programs they had not previously considered.
The Empire Boys and Girls State programs are weeklong workshops that focus on Americanism and the political process. Accredited by the National College Credit Recommendation Service, the programs help students better understand democratic ideals and the individual’s part in carrying out those ideals. During their workshops, the students create a mythical 51st state where they run for office, learn public speaking and a certain amount of discipline as they create laws and actively participate in creating and running a working government.
Tallon Rood reported about his interaction with the U. S. Marines who were his immediate superiors.
“At first I wondered what was I doing here, but as the week progressed and we had a chance to interact with the Marines more personally,” Rood said. “I learned that they are real people, just like us, and now I count them among my friends.”
Jennie Bristol included humor in her speech as she reported on “…having 5 girls and only one bathroom was a slight problem.”
“But in all seriousness,” she continued, “this was a life changing experience that I would not change for a second and I thank the Marion Legion for giving me the chance to attend.”