10 high school juniors preparing for summer at Boys State

Published 12:08 am Saturday, May 21, 2016

LAPLACE — Each summer a group of boys from St. John the Baptist Parish, with the help from American Legion Post 383, go to the State Capital to participate in a leadership program that teaches about state government.

Matthew Templet holds his acceptance letter for Boys State and a pamphlet. The SCC student said he wants to gain more knowledge about government to better help his community and nation.

Matthew Templet holds his acceptance letter for Boys State and a pamphlet. The SCC student said he wants to gain more knowledge about government to better help his community and nation.

Post Commander Dave Gatt said 10 high school juniors from local schools would be going to the capital this summer — June 26 through July 2 — to take part in Boys State.

Gatt said local schools nominate students who are excelling academically.

They are interviewed by the American Legion, and some are selected to go based on available funding.

This is the 76th year of Boys State.

Gatt feels Boys State is important because it teaches high school juniors leadership, camaraderie through meeting others and provides the basics to spark interest in school government and community help.

“The primary function of the trip is to learn how the state government functions,” Gatt said. “Each boy has to assume a position. It can be a senator, a representative, governor or city councilman. They have to learn how that position impacts the community and the state. When they return, we give them the opportunity to come to one of our American Legion meetings, and they get to tell us about their time. Most of them say it’s a life changing week.”

One student excited to attend Boys State in the summer is St. Charles Catholic High School junior Matthew Templet.

One of the people that inspired Templet to join Boys State was his brother, Jacob, who attended the program during his junior year.

Templet, 17, of LaPlace said Boys State is basically a camp where students get to create their own government.

“I wanted to go to Boys State because I’ve always been curious about presidential candidates and elections,” he said. “I want to gain more knowledge about the government and learn how to help my community or possibly my nation be a better place.”

He believes the American Legion accepted him because his application displayed his involvement and leadership skills in and outside of school.

Templet is on the soccer team and a member of numerous clubs, some where he holds an officer’s position. He is also a member of the Eagle Scouts and helps coordinate and teach those in the local Boy Scout troop.

One thing Templet is most excited about is meeting different people and creating lasting bonds.

Jacob, who attended Boys State in 2013, said he has kept his friendships with others he met there.

“It was extremely exhausting because you don’t have time for much sleep because you have a week to do projects, but it’s definitely a confidence booster and you definitely make life-long friends,” he said. “Even though I’m in college, I still stay in contact with the guys I met at Boys State. I feel like knowing guys from Boys State made for an easier transition from high school to college.”

Jacob, a sophomore at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, is interested in how his brother will do.

“We might be brothers, but like most siblings, we are two completely separate people,” Jacob said. “I had a great experience and I hope he does too. I feel that Louisiana Boys State is different from the rest of the Boys States around the country, because we have past members that go back to be councilors, which is something I did a couple of years ago. Louisiana Boys State is more fun in my mind.”

By Raquel Derganz Baker