By: Bryce Sahs, Yorktown
Being on a School Board is a challenging, non-profit position in one’s community. Members must understand the board’s responsibilities, model effective principles of board governance, and create a collaborative relationship with the main administrating leader of education. Being part of the board comes with great stress and great responsibilities. As Winston Churchill put it, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” The function of a school board is to provide citizens with control over local education. This comes down to the board having to represent all the citizens in the entire school district the board resides.
The main responsibilities a school board deals with are: employing a superintendent, holding him or her responsible for controlling the school district in regards to the state law, identifying and adopting educational goals for the school district, and engaging the community in discussion about future student learning. Board meetings start with a Call to Order (Explains the agenda), announcing an Open Meeting’s Law (Requires that all meetings are open to the public), publicizing the meeting, then doing a Roll Call of Board Members. This is followed by all in attendance reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the fun begins! The agenda of the meeting commences and the staff and student presentations start. After all that concludes, public input is then recognized and considered. Then the Board comes to a final conclusion and enforces it in their school district.
By: Chris Zhen, Alamo
The day is finally here: It’s the beginning of the American Legion’s Cornhusker Boys’ State Program, and both the apprehension of being in a new environment and the excitement of what’s to come run rampant. Hopefully, the apprehension will be long forgotten over the course of the week, as Boys’ Statesmen become immersed in the variety of activities that the program has to offer. The more politically active Boys’ Statesmen will look forward to the intensive amount of political activities that occur, as well as the amount of governmental offices that will be available to run for. Those interested in athletics can look forward to many organized team sports such as softball, basketball, football, and volleyball, as well as an organized pentathlon and track and field competition. Eager journalists can find solace in the fact that there is a very active newspaper staff that is part of the program. At the end of the day, every Boys’ Statesman shall be able to anticipate an extremely active, educational, and an overall fun experience being part of the program.
By: Connor McCoy, Alamo
On May 31st, 2015, 400 boys embarked on a journey which could potentially define who they are for the rest of their lives. For most boys, the journey to get here began very early. The trials and individual stories each young man brings to the table makes Boys’ State unique. However, the trip to become a Boys’ Stater is harder than most would think.
To get this far, high school junior boys across Nebraska apply either by themselves, or a school nomination. The application is the easiest part of the process. After a committee looks over the applicants qualifications, they interview selected applicants. In my case, there were 6 boys given the opportunity to get interviewed. Following many questions, representatives were selected and were sent to an orientation months later. In the weeks between orientation and May 31st, contestants had the chance to decide a position they would like to run for. For many, including myself, the decision was made to try for a higher office. With months of preparations now being behind us, I believe that everyone is ready. The wait from that mid-December night are now over. Let’s get this started.
By: Alan Lee, Valley Forge
The Opening Session of Cornhusker Boys’ State was filled with several speeches that were each unique, motivational, and uplifting. However, a general theme soon began to emerge from the opening presentations: the only way to benefit from Cornhusker Boys’ State is by getting out of your comfort zone.
Some came to Boys’ State with ambitious plans of running for Governor. Others came solely with a goal to gain knowledge about the state political system. Still more came with little background information of how Boys’ State functions. Regardless of our motives for coming to Boys’ state, we must all push ourselves to a new limit.
Branching out of one’s comfort zone looks different for everyone. A more introverted person might find it nerve-racking to start up a conversation with a stranger. At the same time, other people may find it difficult to try a new sport they’ve never played before. In the end, everyone can have rewarding experience from Boys’ State, as long as they strive to get out of their comfort zone.
By: Jared Shipp, Gettysburg
It’s day one of the 2015 American Legion Boys’ State conference and it has already been a busy day. A massive flow of incoming Boys’ Staters have arrived and have experienced a gracious and exciting welcome from the American Legion and Boys’ State staff, with various speeches from the Secretary of State, last year’s Governor, and past Boys’ State participants, among others.
The speakers discussed their past experiences with the program and have extended many words of encouragement and motivation to the incoming participants to do their best to have fun and to put into the program what they can, in order to get the most out of their experience. Many of them have arrived with thoughts of confusion or simply being unsure of what to expect. However, the speakers have provided information on what to expect for the week, involving intense sports tournaments, joint sessions with the Girls’ Staters for band and choir concerts, and even a trip to the state capitol.
With the given information, Boys’ Staters can have some sort of relative idea of what to expect and look forward to all the activities they will partake in. Each Boys’ State participant will be able to have an exciting and busy week, having a great time if a positive attitude is maintained. The week has started with a bang, so it is up to the Boys’ Staters to finish off the rest of the week as such. A week packed full of activities and lasting memories is ahead!
By: Chase Samuelson, Belleau Wood
Upon arriving at Harper Hall, Boys’ Staters and their parents were bustling about. The boys were scrambling to find their floor and room assignment with the assistance of their parents and the Boys’ State Councilors. The nervousness and excitement, as well as the anticipation, hung in the air in the lobby. Parents helped their sons haul their luggage up to their rooms and said their final goodbyes for the week.
Once luggage was taken to the rooms, the boys checked in and changed into their designated t-shirts and went to the lounge on their floor. Slowly, the chaos of check-in and finding rooms subsided and ice-breaker activities began to fill the void in the lounges on each floor. Councilors introduced themselves and told interesting facts about themselves. As boys arrived, each was encouraged to share their name, town they are from, what college they plan to attend in the future, and finally an interesting fact about themselves.
After the ice-breaker activities concluded, the boys signed up for various sports activities as well as choir, band, and newspaper positions. The next adventure presented to the boys was lining up in three equal rows and taking a brisk walk to the auditorium for orientation and opening ceremony. The boys listened to various speakers, including the past year’s Boys’ State Governor, who told about what will happen the rest of the week.
By: Joey Hunter, Yorktown
Time and time again we have all heard the Legionnaires emphasize the opportunities, goals, and outcomes that you can take away from Boys’ State. Leadership, civic service, and friendship are just a few things that have been explained to us as the next generation of Boys’ Staters. The opportunities are endless we are told, but what does this spell for all of us?
The doors that are opened here at Boys’ State allow for all of us to go on an endless journey where the thrill never dies. We have heard from former Boys’ Staters and keynote speakers that these opportunities are limitless and that we, as individuals, are only confined by ourselves. We have seen firsthand the people that Boys’ State has created: actors, coaches, and national and international leaders. This is where you can go as a person; you can even go further than those before.
As a former Boys’ Stater once said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Take that small step as a man and take that leap for mankind.
This year, Boys’ State judges and lawyers got the opportunity to hear and argue actual cases that have gone before the United States Supreme Court. The third case, Oglala Sioux Tribe v. multiple defendants, was presented to determine whether retail sellers of beer, distributors of alcoholic products, and brewing manufacturers, including Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, Inc., SAB Miller, Molson Coors Brewing Company, MillerCoors, LLC and Pabst Brewing Company, had knowingly acted in concert to manufacture, distribute and sell beer through the Whiteclay retail outlets in amounts that cannot be legally sold, consumed or possessed under the laws of the State of Nebraska and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.*
Below are comments from District Judge Jared Pohlmann from Deshler, Nebraska.
“This case was brought to the court on the basis that the Oglala Sioux Tribe blame the Multiple Defendants located in White Clay for selling alcohol to their native people, and thus destroying the native people’s lives on the reservation where alcohol is banned. The plaintiff (Oglala Sioux) stated that Chester Arthur took part of the Pine Ridge Reservation and made a buffer zone of 50 miles which included Whiteclay. They stated that the land was not taken from the reservation but just formed a buffer from it. On the other hand, the defendants quickly responded with the fact that in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt reduced the buffer by 49 miles, creating a 1 mile buffer. Whiteclay resides 2 miles from the reservation, making the selling of alcohol legal. The court decided that the defendants were not breaking the law. Therefore the court ruled in favor of the multiple defendants. While selling to the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation may not be morally correct or just, there is no proof of the town breaking any state or federal laws.”
This year, Boys’ State judges and lawyers got the opportunity to hear and argue actual cases that have gone before the United States Supreme Court. The second case, Bowman v. Monsanto Corporation, was presented to determine whether patent exhaustion does or does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission.*
Below are comments from District Judge Caleb Wilson (Valley Forge) from Elwood, Nebraska and Trevor Polivka, a District Judge (Yorktown) from Lincoln, Nebraska.
“In this case I ruled in favor of Monsanto because of a few points. First is that the seed had a genetic resistance to Roundup and even though it wasn’t the first strain, it still had the genetic similarities that were marketed. Second is that even though Mr. Bowman had been doing this planting for a long time, he first had to spray the growing corn to see if he had any of that marketable strain from Monsanto seed. The third point is that Mr. Bowman signed the documents at the elevator to verify that he was using the seed for feed and not planting. Feeding this seed was not the case for Mr. Bowman. He planted to get the genetic strain that had resilience and that was also patented to Monsanto who still had the rights to it.”
“This case is about one farmer who found a loop hole in a large company’s patent agreement and is being sued because of it. In this case I ruled for the side of Bowman. Bowman did sign the patent doctrine when he bought the seed, however I see nothing wrong with what he did. He abided by the doctrine and sold all of his crop every year, as instructed, to a public grain elevator. Then the next year after he purchased more modified seed from Monsanto. He went back to the grain elevator he sold his crop to last year and bought more seed from them, in order to fertilize and grow more soybeans mixed in with his purchase of seed from Monsanto for a large healthy crop this season. There was no guarantee that he would be getting modified seed from the grain elevator from the year before, so I believe this is not a problem, seeing how it was a public grain elevator where other farmers could buy from and also sell their ordinary crop to the year before. He did not sell it “under the table” to other farmers and sold it like the doctrine said, so he is not breaking any rules, and they have no good evidence to convict him.”
On Thursday evening, United States District Judge Mike Heavican paid a visit to Cornhusker Boys’ State to talk about the judicial system in the state of Nebraska, and also to administer the oath of office to the Boys’ State Supreme Court Chief Justice, who then gave the oath to other justices. Delegates had the opportunity to askHeavican questions, though at many points, he asked the delegates their own questions, curious how they would handle the scenarios they inquired about.
The Hon. Mike Heavican