This summer, De Smet Jesuit seniors John Fotouhi, Sebastian Martin, Roger Melton, and Adam Mertens were among the 1000 student leaders chosen to build an entire state government in a single week.
They were participants in the 80th session of the American Legion Boys State of Missouri program, which offers rising high school seniors the opportunity to gain hands on experience in the operation and fundamentals of government.
The Boys State of Missouri program uses basic American ideals, such as the need for competition, the value of public service, and the strength of the individual vote to guide participants in their work. During their time in the program, located on the campus of the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, students chose to attend one of the following schools of instruction: Campaigning and Political Operations; Commerce; Journalism and Media; Law; Law Enforcement; Legislative and Executive Policy; and Public Administration. Guest speakers included professional journalists and elected officials, including Missouri Attorney and De Smet Jesuit Alumnus General Eric Schmitt ’93.
All participants became citizens of a newly created city and then took on responsibilities to build and run those cities. They ran for government offices, wrote and lobbied for legislation, and collaborated with fellow citizens to efficiently run their governments.
For example, Sebastian Martin, who was elected mayor of the fictional Richardson City, says, “I really bonded with the people in my city and the program provided me with an awesome experience of what is like to be in charge of 60 people to make sure my city was run correctly.”
John Fotouhi enjoyed the Law School because of the opportunity to “learn from real attorneys about their careers and the law itself,” and took on the role of City Attorney for the week, prosecuting individuals who violated city ordinances.
As a citizen of Whitfield City, Adam Mertens held several positions, including Senator, City Party Secretary and Ward Committeeman.
Roger Melton worked in the governor’s office as the Secretary of Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources, drafting legislation and working with senators and representatives to pass legislation. “Boys State taught me to put myself out there and get involved right away,” he said. “Because of my decision to put myself out there I made 14 great friends and had an amazing time drafting legislation and working with congress to get that legislation passed.”