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Boys State 2023

Boys State 2023

Nine rising seniors immersed themselves in Boys State in Tallahassee this summer. Max Livingston ’24 was among them, and he shared his story, first of being selected to attend, and then soaking in the renowned Boys State experience, a participatory youth leadership program that dates back to the 1930s in which students become part of the operation of local, county, and state government. In Florida, this summer marked the 79th Boys State session.

Boys State 2023
By Max Livingston ’24

We loaded into the bus at the American Legion in south Tampa at 1:00am, bound for Boys State.

We didn’t make it very far.

A minor accident with thankfully no injuries set us back. But it only delayed our arrival in Tallahassee by a few hours, and we were all ready to go when we arrived. As soon as we got to town, we hit the ground running by networking for the time remaining before elections.

Along with myself, eight other Jesuit seniors attended Boys State this summer: Julian Alonso, Sean Corrigan, Chancellor Haber, Ronald Hardin, Ryan Lavallee, Matthew Silva, Tristan Stavish, and Teejay Weever. We were selected based on the qualifications required by the American Legion: Successful completion of junior year; an interest in the governmental process; outstanding qualities of leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty, and service to their schools and community; and a resident of the state of Florida.

(Click here for a Convocation presentation by Alonso about his powerful experience at Boys State this summer.)

It was a thorough process that included interviews at Jesuit, interviews through the Boy Scout program, or interviews directly with the American Legion. It started in November of junior year by completing short answer essays about why we wanted to attend Boys State. We were then interviewed by members of the American Legion. In other words, only those with a strong desire to attend Boys State, and who met all of the qualifications could be selected. Which meant that at Boys State, you would be surrounded by hundreds of others who were similar to you in many ways.

In May, we attended a training session to prepare us for what to expect at Boys State. Then on June 18, we loaded onto the bus for our week of immersion in local, state, and county government. We joined more than 500 other boys from all over the state of Florida, all of us dressed in the Boys State uniform of red collared shirts and uniform pants, to start the mock government session inside the Tucker Civic Center.

We had a brief opportunity to campaign for city, county, or state office, for one of 150 elected positions. Though we did not have much time to campaign, both Tristan and Ronald prevailed and were elected to positions in the Senate. Once the elections were complete, we commenced taking classes about the local, city, and state government, and legislation. The classes and mock sessions began shortly after our wakeup call of 6:15am – we were working long, productive days.

We learned a lot and accomplished many things. We learned how to craft a bill and created our own bills, voted on those bills, heard from several elected officials such as the Mayor of Tallahassee (John Dailey) and Florida Secretary of State (Cord Byrd), elected people into office, learned the history of Florida, and learned about the court system in Florida – among many other things. As part of the activities, we created legislation about an issue that is important to us. My legislation was about coastal erosion.

Adding to the comprehensive experience was staying on a college campus. We slept in Dorman Hall at Florida State. We each had a roommate from somewhere else in the state. My roommate was from Pensacola, and he was a great guy. It was interesting to hear about his experience with the government from his hometown. At the end of the week we went to the Florida State Capitol, where we sat in the chairs of our Florida State Senators and voted on our proposed legislation.

It was an amazing week. I am grateful to have had this tremendous opportunity to gain an understanding in great detail of Florida’s government, civic leadership, and American legislative traditions.