Tennessee Tech hosts American Legion Boys State for 56th year

State Rep. Ryan Williams and Sen. Paul Bailey discuss state government with delegates at the 56th Boys State held at Tennessee Tech.

COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech University welcomed more than 330 American Legion Boys State delegates to campus last week, marking the in-person return of the program after two years of virtual activities.  

Because of the opportunities given to hundreds of rising high school seniors from across the state, Tennessee’s American Legion Boys State holds a high reputation and thousands of students apply to come each year. 

“We continue the tradition of serving students in our state with this program,” Steve Law, Tennessee ALBS director, said. “As Memorial Day approaches each year, we look forward to having the privilege of teaching hundreds of young men about government and service to their state.”

Beginning Sunday, May 23, delegates were immersed in learning state government by running a mock 51st state, Boys State. They organized political parties and established city, county and state governments by election, complete with primaries and political campaigns. American Legion posts across the state sponsor delegates and fund the activities held at Tennessee Tech.

“As Memorial Day approaches, we are proud to have American Legion Boys State return to campus for its 56th year,” said Tech President Phil Oldham. “Learning to serve others and understand how our state government works means these young men will be better prepared to lead and serve their communities in the future.”

The week concluded on Friday with an inauguration ceremony and an address by Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton. 

The new governor is Christian Bryson, of Jackson, who attends Madison Academic High School. 

Judge Gary McKenzie oversees the program at Tennessee Tech, serving as American Legion Boys State state chairman for Tennessee. McKenzie welcomed participants Sunday night and spoke to them in a Monday evening assembly.  

This week’s featured presenters and guests included the Tennessee Supreme Court, State Sen. Paul Bailey, State Reps. Ryan Williams and John Mark Windle, Judge Gary McKenzie, Public Defender Craig Fickling and Assistant District Attorney General Caroline Knight, among many others.

Throughout the week, delegates participated in athletic competitions and an oratorical contest. The Boys State band, directed by Tech’s Director of Bands Jeff Miller also performed for its 56th year. 

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