Salisbury, N.C. – The 65th annual session of Tar Heel Boys State is underway now on the campus of Catawba College.
More than 300 participants, all rising high school seniors from North Carolina, are participating in the weeklong event.
Tar Heel Boys’ State, directed by Henry Wilson of Winston- Salem, is hosting its session for the second year on Catawba’s campus; it has been held for 38 years prior on the campus of Wake Forest University.
Tar Heel Boys’ State, sponsored by the American Legion, involves high school juniors who are academically in the top third of their class. The program is a weeklong practical study of the structure and operation of North Carolina State Government. In a non-partisan atmosphere, participants take a hands-on approach to learning how state and local governments function. Citizens, as the participants are known, develop an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship by creating and living under their own mock government.
During the week, citizens are grouped into cities as they organize their own local government, elect officers, prepare a city charter and conduct city activities. Citizens also assume the role of a senator, representative or lobbyist to research and write bills for their legislature. Each citizen is also a member of a fictitious political party that will develop a party platform, campaign for party candidates and ultimately elect a slate of officers to govern.
Notable state leaders traditionally speak at sessions during Tar Heel Boys’ State. Past speakers have included the N.C. governor and lieutenant governor, the N.C. attorney general and secretary of state as well as distinguished alumni from the programs.
This year, slated speakers include N.C. Legislator Linda Johnson of the 74th District, Chair of the Rowan County Republican Party Martha Corriher, and First Chair of the N.C. Democratic Party Jerry Meek, all of whom spoke Monday, June 21; local government officials, including Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz and High Point City Council Members Ronald Wilkins, Benita Sims and Bill Bencini, along with representatives of the N.C. Judiciary, including Superior Court Judge Anderson Cromer of District 17-B, and District Court Judge Lisa Menefee of the 21st District, all of whom will speak Wednesday, June 23. N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall will speak Friday, June 24.
During the evening of Friday, June 25, Boys’ State participants will be involved in an All-Star Quiz Bowl Challenge, a Jazz Band Concert, a Men’s Choral Concert, and a Talent Show in Keppel Auditorium. The week concludes with a commencement ceremony scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 26, also in Keppel Auditorium.
Notable former Boys’ State participants include Catawba College Alumnus Phil Kirk ‘67, chairman emeritus of the N.C. State Board of Education and president and secretary of NCCBI, professional basketball great Michael Jordan of N.C., and N.C. Governors Jim Hunt and James Martin. National program alumni of note include U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney, U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw and NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong.