Elkhorn Area High School students selected to attend Badger Boys State are, from left, Hunter Parks, Steve Stukas and Jordan Nanda. (Photo by John Koski)


By John Koski


Badger Boys State will open its 72nd session on June 8 in Ripon. The annual week-long program sponsored by the American Legion Department of Wisconsin brings together hundreds of high school seniors from across Wisconsin to create a 51st state known as Badger Boys State.

Attending from Elkhorn Area School will be students Jordan Nanda, Hunter Parks and Steve Stukas.

“Badger Boys State is a remarkable youth leadership program designed to educate students in the duties, privileges, rights, and responsibilities of American citizenship,” Fred Berns, Badger Boys State director, said in a release.

“The program’s fundamental principle is youth learn best by actively participating in the process,” Berns said. “Students are initially separated into cities and counties, these future leaders will campaign for a variety of offices and establish their own city, county and state government.”

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to gain experience with politics,” Jordan Nanda said. “I’m currently taking AP classes in government and politics, so Badger Boys State will tie in nicely with what I’ve been learning. It’s an excellent opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”

Badger Boys State participants will develop their own party platforms, pass local ordinances and utilize a state patrol and judicial system to enforce the laws and constitution of the 51st state.

In addition, citizens choose from a series of schools of instruction such as: law, peace officer, leadership, public speaking, parliamentary procedure, and lobbying and campaign strategies, among others.

“I’m looking forward to learning more about how government works every day in the lives of people,” Hunter Parks said. “It was nice to be selected and to have my teacher say, ‘We’d like you to go to this.’”

Badger Boys State citizens also have an opportunity to participate in a variety of team sports that compete throughout the week, a band and choir, and write for the Badger Bugle Citizen, the official newspaper of Badger Boys State.

“I’m looking forward to gaining more experience in the field of government,” Steve Stukas said. “My goal is to work for the U.S. Department of State as an ambassador, so Badger Boys State should be very helpful.”

“Since the program’s inception in 1939, Badger Boys State has had a positive impact on the lives of over 63,000 students,” Berns said. “Badger Boys State graduates are prominent today as responsible leaders in public office, business and the professions.”

Highlights of this year’s session include guest speakers, Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, Charles Wiley of the National Press Corps and U.S. Attorney James Santelle, among others.

Badger Boy State citizens are selected by local high schools throughout the state based on their qualifications as good students, exhibiting strong leadership skills and in the top third of their class.       Previous Badger Boys State graduates are prominent today as leaders and include Gov. Scott Walker (1985), U.S. Attorney James Santelle (1975), Gov. Scott McCallum (1967), Congressman Thomas Petri, jazz singer Al Jarreau, actor Daniel J. Travanti (all in 1957) and former Gov. Martin Schreiber (1956).




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