At the Legion last night twelve of the seventeen MHS seniors who spent a week last summer at the Legion run Boys State and Girls State, held at Stonehill College in Easton, recounted their experiences to the crowd of over a hundred in attendance at the Legion’s monthly dinner meeting. Each of the dozen students spoke about what the experience had meant to them, and each was remarkably eloquent, poignant, or in turn funny. The experience had clearly made strong positive impressions on each student, and for some it had been life changing. More than one student recounted the benefits to them from meeting others from backgrounds so disparate from what they have know in Medfield.
Boys State and Girls State are the Legion run opportunity for high school students to learn about the American political and governing processes by actually taking part in mock government elections and functions, as well as taking courses. The students are divided amongst separate towns, elect their own leaders from amongst their own members, and deal with legislation.
Last summer the students also got to participate in the actual political process, as some researched and took a position against the then pending legislation in the Massachusetts legislature that would have allowed cell antennae to be located virtually anywhere regardless of local zoning. The students submitted letters against the legislation to the legislature that Representative Shawn Dooley said last night helped to put a face on the opposition and to defeat that legislation.
Medfield’s Legion sends more students to Boys State and Girls State than any other city or town in the state. Around 700 students in all participate. Karl Schwartz, past Legion Commander, recounted that when he took the program on 17 years ago no students were being sent by the Legion to participate, and that the program has been gradually built up over the years. Today the students compete for the slots, as the demand to participate exceeds the monies available to send students.