Three local teens who attended the 2019 Georgia Boys State event were elected to offices, and one will represent the state in a national event, said American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 member Charles “Skip” Campbell.
Georgia Boys State is a comprehensive one week course in state and local government, a program sponsored by the American Legion Department of Georgia, he said. The local post sponsored teens from area high schools.
Aaron Johnson, 17, a Southeast Bulloch High School senior, will head to Washington, D.C., in July to represent Georgia in the Boys Nation. Statesboro High School senior Michael Champion, 17, was elected Chief of Police during the Boys State event earlier this month, and Bulloch Academy senior Riley Joyce, also 17, was elected attorney general, Campbell said.
“This is the first time I had three boys sent to Boys State who came back with such high offices and high praise,” he said.
The teens attending the program learn about government and elections, choosing offices for which they run, seeking election by their peers. The trip was funded by the American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 parent organization.
Aaron Johnson, son of Jimmy Johnson of Statesboro and Michelle Johnson of Sylvania, was elected as governor of a mythical 51st state. Then, he was chosen to represent Georgia at Boys Nation.
“Before he went up there, he told me before he left he was going to run for governor,” Jimmy Johnson said. “I’ll be dad-gum if he didn’t do it.”
His son is very active in several organizations and has achieved honors in the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Foundation Explorer Scouts as well as in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), he said.
Aaron Johnson said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and looks forward to Boys Nation.
“It is definitely a humbling experience to be one of two people to go to Washington, DC to represent your state,” he said. “When I started this, I decided ‘let’s go for governor.’”
The program “purely teaches you and gives an in-depth concept of how government works,: he said. He knows that one day he will “look back and say ‘I did that.’”
Facing Boys Nation and the possibility of meeting President Donald Trump doesn’t make him nervous, he said. “If you do your research, you can’t really go wrong.”
The teen is a lieutenant colonel and battalion commander for the SEB ROTC program, and he enjoys soccer, football and baseball. As the JROTC Raiders team captain, he is “trying to get a letter in soccer in school” and plans to attend the Air Force Academy.
Chief of Police and Attorney General
Statesboro High School senior Michael Champion might have known what to expect when he attended Boys State, since his mother worked for the program for over two decades when it was held at Georgia Southern University.
The son of Steve and Deborah Champion ran for police chief during the week-long event, and won.
“It was awesome. We are very proud of him,” Deborah Champion said. “Boys State is an awesome program. I have seen a lot of good people go through that program.”
Michael Champion said he learned a great deal through the program.
“It was a pretty good experience to find out how city elections go,” he said. “It was pretty cool –a crash course in government.”
It is a great way to meet people as well, he said. “You start off not knowing anybody, but the end of the week you are friends with everybody you meet.”
Bulloch Academy’s Riley Joyce, son of Shelley and Keith Joyce, was elected attorney general at Boys State.
“He absolutely had one of the best experiences of his life,” Shelley Joyce said. “He learned a tremendous amount.”
Riley Joyce said he feels “accomplished” after the program. ‘You choose the position you run for, set your mind” and pursue your goal.
Attending the event and being elected attorney general makes him feel “happy” and it taught him “how to talk to people in a public or campaign setting,” he said. “You learn to keep up with people’s interests. Definitely, everyone who gets a chance to go to Boys State should go.”
Campbell said the program teaches about “law and court, parliamentary procedure and Georgia political history.”
Those interested in attending the 2020 Boys State can contact their school’s counselor or an American Legion member.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.