Toronto students attend program

TORONTO – Seven seniors from the city high school attended the American Legion Post 86-sponsored Boys and Girls State program over the summer, where the teens learned about how government works.

The Legion-sponsored program this year included students Erin Taggart, Zac Calabrese, Holly Eckard, Mykia West, Lindsay Bodnar, Katie Spadafora and Chelsea Anderson. Girls attended the program the week of June 16-22 at Mount Union University in Alliance, while boys attended the week of June 9-15 at Bowling Green University. The program included the creation of municipalities, the election of officers and administrative appointments to simulate government in action, according to Lindsay.

“The first few days we campaigned and ran for offices,” she said. “The last two days we worked (as elected officials and administers.

The program included the formation of two political parties, including the Federalist and Nationalist parties. Once elected to the mock government, it was time to govern, said Spadafora.

“Once you had been elected to an office you had to fulfill those duties,” she said.

“You roomed with someone,” said Bodnar. “Everyone on your floor made up a city. Each floor made up part of a county.”

Erin Taggart said on the first day roommates met and games were played.

“We had dinner and then the state caucuses,” she said. “Then we went to the city meeting.”

Elections were held for a number of offices, including at the city, county and state level. Offices included everything from the state senate to the governor’s office to the supreme court and even state auditor. Those who lost elections often ended up in administrative positions, while others went on to run for higher offices, according to Bodnar.

“Your city voted (for candidates), and you moved up the ladder (if elected),” she said.

Students said they enjoyed the experience and learned quite a bit about how a democratic system of government works.

“I learned about government, how it works and why it’s very important,” said Anderson.

“It helped you break out of your shell,” said Spadafora. “You had to talk to other people.”

“It was exactly the same for the boys, except it was at Bowling Green University,” said Calabrese. “It was really fun. I met a lot of new people.”

Maureen Taggart, high school principal, thanked the Toronto American Legion for helping students with the experience.

“We are so grateful to the American Legion Post 86 and the American Legion Post 86 Ladies Auxiliary for sponsoring such a worthwhile program,” she said. “Ours students learn so much from this experience.”