The Big Rapids American Legion post is on a mission to help some Big Rapids High School students learn more about, and maybe improve, how state and local government operates. Big Rapids American Legion Vice Commander, and BRPS social studies teacher, Mark Brejcha says 28 students will join some 600 other students from across the state for their America Legion Boys and Girls State program.
“It's June 18th through the 24th. We've already actually selected our candidates – we have 16 boys and 12 girls this year.”
During the week, students create a fictitious state and then learn how government works while developing leadership skills & an appreciation for their rights as a citizen. They run for office, learn public speaking, create and enforce laws, and actively participate in all phases of creating and running a working government.
“The students are plugged into positions of government throughout the fictitious state, all the way from governor all the way down to city mayor and they throw scenarios at them. These kids are up 'till one in the morning doing case studies and everything else to try to tackle the scenarios in a democratic way,” Brejcha says.
He notes that each participating American Legion post has to “take the ball and run with it.” Two years ago the Big Rapids post sent five students, last year they sent 16, and this year they hope to send all 28 candidates. And, at a cost of $400 per student, fund raising efforts are under way. Brejcha says they are reaching out to area businesses, individuals, and alumni of the program.
“They can send the money to the AMVETS/Legion post here and just earmark it 'American Legion Boys and Girls State.' They can send it to myself, Mark Brejcha, I'm the chairman [and] I'll make sure they get it.”
The Big Rapids American Legion Post 1941 is located at 320 S. 4th Avenue, Big Rapids, MI 49307 or you can call 231-796-6998.