Closer Look

Three chosen to attend educational Boys State program

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Deena Bouknight

The American Legion Post 108 in Franklin selected three young men from Macon County to be this year’s Boys State delegates, according to Jack Castle, former commander. Macon Early College students Wyatt Duvall and Brendan Herrera, and Franklin High School student Ayden Freeman were this area’s representatives at the 84th Session of the 2024 Tar Heel Boys State Program, held June 16-22 at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.

The three representatives from Macon County joined other delegates from around the state to participate in a comprehensive, week-long series of workshops concentrating on North Carolina state government and politics. This year’s three local delegates were sponsored by Rotary Club of Franklin Daybreak, Argent Accounting, Attorney John VanHook, and Highlander Roofing. A special donation was provided in memory of U.S. Army veteran Thomas McCollum.

“The Boys State program is an opportunity for a few young men to have an opportunity to learn more about and experience how our government is designed to work at the local and state level,” said Castle.

The 84th Session of the 2024 Tar Heel Boys State Program was held June 16–22 at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.

He also pointed out that “the selective process and the experience the young men are exposed to gives them something extra on a college application.” 

Boys State was founded in 1935. American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program for young women called Girls State. (An article on the Girls State program will be featured in the July 18 edition.)

Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, recreational programs, and more. Boys State programs currently exist in all American Legion departments in the United States, except Hawaii.

A week well spent

Fresh from Boys State, Franklin native Duvall shared his thoughts.

“Boys State was a very educational experience on the workings of the government, especially the House and the Senate. I also learned about the roles of the city, such as the city councilor (which I was elected as), the city manager, the mayor, and a few more [positions].

SENATOR FROM South Carolina and a recent Republican presidential contender Tim Scott is a Boys State alum and he speaks annually to Boys State participants.

“We were put into groups based on city, county, or party (nationalist or federalist). The week started with learning about the government, figuring out what role or office we wanted, and campaigning for it. There were then general and primary elections to decide who got what office, and those not elected were appointed to a position. We did something called Government in Action the last couple days after the elections, where we got in groups from the house, senate, counties, and cities to solve problems. In my ‘city,’ we solved problems such as deteriorating fire trucks and roads in rough shape.”

Duvall further shared, “I didn’t just learn about the government. Between the social aspect and the lectures, you learn to become more social and develop leadership skills. I even made a few friends across the state who I will definitely stay in touch with. Overall, it was a very unique experience that taught me quite a bit about politics and government.”

THE AMERICAN Legion Post 108 in Franklin selected three Macon County young men to be this year’s Boys State delegates, including Wyatt Duvall. The trio joined numerous other delegates from communities around the state.

Many noteworthy individuals are Boys State alum. One, who attended Boys State in 1982, is from neighboring South Carolina. U.S. Senator Tim Scott (and a recent Republican presidential contender) annually shares his experiences with other Boys State participants. He has commented, “I can testify from my own experience, [Boys State] does incredible work to teach important life lessons that help shape the leaders of tomorrow.”

Other recognizable Boys State alumni include athlete Michael Jordan, former University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and several NASA astronauts.Many more successful men are listed on the Boys State alumni website page representing a host of professions, from politics to business to the medical field.

To learn criteria, deadlines, and additional information about Boys State 2025 in North Carolina, visit