Pictured (L-R): Larry Vrooman, Scott, Reagan and Karen Ficken, Mike Reilly and Bobby Vincent.

Reagan Ficken was chosen by the faculty of Orangefield High School and sponsored by Bridge City American Legion Post 250 to attend Boys State which was held June 3-8 in Austin.

“American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students,” says the Boys State Web site. Students learn about the operation of local, county and state government by participating in their own governmental campaigns and elections.

In the week long experience the boys are split into two parties. After their campaigns and elections, students hold office to learn the interworking of government.

“This experience is invaluable, and will increase the ability of our youth to participate in governmental affairs, or even run for office, in later years,” said Past State Chaplin Marv Howland.

The Web site said participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments.

“I’m very, very thankful to the American Legion for sending me,” said Reagan. “I learned a lot about government that I did not know and a lot of skills that will help later on down the road.”

Reagan said he ran for county judge and won his primary for the Federalist Party, but lost in the general election.

“I found it interesting. It wasn’t really what I was expecting. It opened my eyes,” said Reagan. “You have to approach your voters and not always do whatever you think best, but first and foremost look out for the interests of everyone else. It was a great experience.”

The 17-year-old’s birthday is not until February, so he will not be able to vote in this year’s presidential election, but he will not be taking the responsibility lightly once he is eligible. “It definitely made me want to look more into each candidate and really look at their character and what they think is right and wrong and also what they would do for the community and serving as a whole.”

Boys State was founded in 1935 by Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, who organized the first Boys State at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

Activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.

“We were really excited he was able to go,” said Reagan’s mother, Karen Ficken. “It was pretty vigorous, there was hardly any down time, so whenever he got home he was like a zombie for a day and a half,” she laughed.

Reagan is currently working at Pinehurst Gardens doing lawn maintenance and will be a senior at Orangefield High School next year. After graduation, he plans to attend a four year university.

According to Howland, no student was able to attend from the Bridge City High School this year.