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‘Stand on your ideas’

Moorestown High student elected to prestigious Boys Nation

Special to The Sun: Speaking in front of an audience was among skills learned by Chris Gorman at American Legion Boys State programs last month.

Moorestown High School rising senior and Post 42 Boys State delegate Chris Gorman will celebrate his election to Boys Nation later this summer in Washington, D.C. 

“Not many people in their lifetime get to go inside the White House or see underneath the chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives,” Gorman said. “This is the opportunity we get, so I’m going to take in every second of it.”

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Gorman participated last month in American Legion Boys State, a program about the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens, according to its website. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments. 

Operated by students elected to various offices, Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations and recreational programs. 

As separate corporations, Boys State programs vary in content and methods, but each adheres to the same basic concept: teaching government from the township to the state level. There were many takeaways for Gorman from the program, including how to adapt to speaking in front of large groups.

“I definitely learned and expanded upon the ability to talk to people,” he recalled. “You get dropped into a group of about 70 to 100 strangers and you have no choice but to introduce yourself and meet them.”

“It’s not easy for anyone, I think, to get up in front of 800 kids for the first time and give a speech,” he added, “but once you do it for the second or third (time), you really find yourself becoming more comfortable. And that’s something I’m really grateful for as well.”

Two representatives from each of the 49 Boys States branches represent their state at Boys Nation, where the young leaders receive an education on the structure and function of the federal government and each delegate acts as a senator from his branch. 

The young lawmakers caucus at the beginning of the session, then organize into committees and conduct hearings on legislation submitted by program delegates. The week of training also includes lectures, forums and visits to federal agencies, national shrines, institutions, memorials and historical sites. On Capitol Hill, Boys Nation senators meet with legislators from their own states.

“You make connections that are rare to come by, and I hear that it’s just an outstanding opportunity,” Gorman noted. “ … I’m sure that I’m going to meet some really bright, outspoken kids, but I guess that’s the whole point.”

“I’ll leave with a network of 90-something other kids from across the country that are in a similar position as me,” he continued. “ … If you have the opportunity to go, go, and make the most out of it.”

For more information on Boys State and Boys Nation, visit https://www.legion.org/boysnation/about.


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