NR students are mayors for a week

Published 8:58 pm Friday, July 3, 2009

Two rising seniors at Nansemond River High School were selected as mayors at the 2009 American Legion Boys State of Virginia.

“This means we have some highly qualified students here,” said John R. Bright, sponsor from the American Legion Post No. 57. “It’s quite an honor.”

Boys State is a weeklong educational program revolving around government instruction for high school students. The program allows participants to participate in the operation of mock local and state governments.

More than 800 boys from across the state of Virginia were selected to participate in the program, which was held June 21-27 at Liberty University.

Suffolk sent a total of 11 representatives from all four high schools.

To help give the students a more detailed view of how local government operates, those 800 boys were then split into 16 cities, each of which required its own mayor.

Nansemond River’s Dallas Ellis and Jacob Scott were each elected as mayors for their respective cities.

“It was exciting,” Scott said. “It was definitely a lot of responsibility.”

As mayors, the boys served almost as chief disciplinarians of their cities. For example, every morning Scott and Ellis had to wake up earlier than the rest of the citizens in the dorm, get the agendas for the day’s events and then wake up their citizens.

They also had to ensure their citizens were paying attention during lecture workshops, were not playing on cell phones and were walking orderly throughout campus.

But the boys said they did not mind the extra work, because the camp experience was worth it.

“We got the chance to meet prominent people in our state government,” Ellis said. He added that in the one week there, they met Gov. Tim Kaine as well as other state staff. “We also got to mingle with other boys to see how it really is in other parts of the state. I thought it was very interesting.”

Both Ellis and Scott said they came away from their time in pseudo-city leadership with a better understanding of how important it is to get involved.

“It emphasized our social responsibility a whole lot and our responsibility to vote and help our community,” Scott said. “It made me realize that I took that for granted.”

Ellis added that he also was motivated to take his civic duty more seriously, and he has been encouraged to transfer the leadership skills he learned at Boys State to his upcoming school year at Nansemond River.

“My leadership level will be a little higher, so it won’t be a bother to me to get a little bit more involved in school politics,” he said. “It’s just important that, as I grow up and become the age to vote and really get involved in politics, that I do get involved.”

Ellis and Scott both said they were excited to be able to serve as mayors and were equally excited that they are both Nansemond River Warriors.

“We talked about it because that was amazing we were from the same school,” Scott said. “We really didn’t know what to say about it other than it was really cool.”

Also participating in this year’s program were: Taurus Richardson and Joshua Merciez from King’s Fork High School; Benjamin Corbett, McKinsey Bullock Jr. and Nikhil Mukherjee from Lakeland High School; Scott Wohigamuth Jr. and Anthony Stewart Jr. from Nansemond River High School; and Gary Kafer and Charles Parr Jr. from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

For more information about the Boys State program, visit www.legion.org/programs/youthprograms/boystate.