University Set to Host Boys State

Hundreds of rising high school seniors come to campus May 30 to learn the workings of government

American Legion Boys State participants listen to then-Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant in 2018 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Some 250 rising high school seniors from across Mississippi travel to UM on May 30 for this year’s edition of Boys State. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will host American Legion Boys State beginning Sunday (May 30), when the weeklong event brings about 250 rising high school seniors from across Mississippi to campus with the goal of “developing tomorrow’s informed, responsible citizens.”

Boys State delegates will learn how city, county and state governments function through simulating those jobs. They’ll also participate in Memorial Day services and hear from many local, state and federal elected officials.

Chancellor Glenn Boyce said the university is excited to host so many future leaders. 

“The university is proud of its strong and long-standing partnership with American Legion Boys State,” Boyce said. “Like Boys State, Ole Miss is dedicated to providing extraordinary learning opportunities and nurturing future leaders in Mississippi.

“We’re so pleased to welcome these impressive young men from across our state back for another outstanding experience on our campus.”

The Illinois American Legion created Boys State in 1934, and Mississippi’s began in 1938. The national organization adopted it in 1945.

Boys State’s goal is to make sure every delegate understands the value of civic education, and that they have an opportunity to put that education into practice while on campus.

The gathering is designed to be a virtual 51st state with a constitution, statutes and ordinances constructed by its citizens to govern themselves. Participants are required to review their knowledge about political workings of state and local government, but they also perform the same duties as real-world officeholders.

Typically, Mississippi’s governor, members of its congressional delegation, legislators, mayors and other elected officials address delegates to Boys State. This year, Gov. Tate Reeves and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker are among those slated to speak. 

Bradley Baker, director of the Ole Miss Student Union, said it’s been an honor working with Boys State the last few years. 

“It has been a privilege to be a part of the university’s commitment to the development of the future leaders of our state and nation in planning for Boys State each year,” Baker said. “We are excited to welcome them back to campus for what will be a memorable experience for each delegate as well as their staff during their time on campus.”

Organizers encourage participants to get out and see all the campus has to offer, Baker said. 

“While planning for Boys State each year, we want the delegates and staff to take advantage of our top-notch facilities, whether at the Student Union, in the Grove or in their residence halls,” Baker said. “We are always honored to roll out the red carpet for the Boys State program as we welcome them back to Oxford and Ole Miss each summer.”