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GLOW Region News—Byron-Bergen: B-B senior participates in Boys’ State
Joshua Tardy, who was then a junior at Byron-Bergen Junior-Senior High School, was called to the principal’s office one day during the spring semester.
He was not in trouble, though. He was called to the office so that the principal could inform Joshua that he had qualified to apply to Boys’ State, an American Legion leadership and citizenship program for high school juniors, which focuses on exploring American government and politics.
Though initially unfamiliar with the program, Joshua did some research and decided to contact the Bergen American Legion Post for an interview. He was selected to attend the week-long event at SUNY Morrisville along with three other representatives from Genesee County.
Founded in 1935, Boys’ State is an annual leadership camp designed to introduce high school boys to the democratic system of government and military-style discipline. In June, Tardy and 500 of his peers showed up to Boys’ State and in doing so, joined the ranks of Boys’ State alumni that include former President Bill Clinton, Neil Armstrong, Michael Jordan and Bruce Springsteen.
Joshua would later learn that showing up is the hardest part.
Along with learning to march, chant, follow directions, and make a bed with military precision, each participant chose an area of interest on which to focus.
Joshua chose media, specifically newspaper reporting. His project was to report on an aspect of Boys’ State and his inspiration came from one of the guest speakers.
“Showing up is the hardest part,” said New York State Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt, R-New Windsor, who attended Boys’ State as a student in 2007. Schmitt shared with the current attendees his almost immediate desire to leave. He contrasted this urge against the values and connections he gained through the experience and his gratitude for how Boys’ State shaped him as a leader.
Joshua gravitated to Schmitt’s speech because the assemblyman’s sentiments mirrored his own. After the first night, he also felt ready to go home.
“The hardest part was waking up super early and doing PT (physical training). It was fun at first, but then it was such a big change that I wanted to go home,” said Joshua, who will be a senior at Byron-Bergen when school returns in September. “It wasn’t until halfway through the week that I was like, ‘I’m going to actually miss this.’ ”
Despite the bumpy start, Joshua kept showing up. He showed up to march, to chant, to make connections, to write his article and eventually to enjoy himself as part of the Boys’ State community.
“Definitely meeting people from all around New York state was the best part,” said Joshua. “Now (that Boys’ State is complete) I’m able to see how much their lives are different from mine.”
Although Joshua had already planned to attend college or join the military after he graduates in June 2023, he credits Boys’ State with inspiring him to explore options further from home.
Joshua’s advice to the students who qualify to apply in the future is, show up.
“It really is fun,” he said. “The food is great. You’ll meet a lot of fun people, and the experience is cool to have.”