Sept. 21, 2023 - A Comal ISD student made district history this summer when he was elected to Boys Nation to represent Texas in Washington, D.C.
Annually, students from across Texas participate in the American Legion Texas Boys State and the American Legion Auxiliary Texas Bluebonnet Girls State programs to learn firsthand how city and state governments work. This year, Comal ISD was represented by 27 students, and one of them continued his experience at the federal level as a “senator” for Texas.
Rowen Hamilton, a 12th-grade student at Smithson Valley High School, was surprised to be elected as one of only two to serve as a Texas delegate to Boys Nation, and his experience expanded his view on government and civil service.
“I was surprised to be selected for Boys Nation,” says Hamilton who is involved in theater and debate at SVHS. “My view of government has dramatically changed since attending these programs. I have a deeper appreciation for the massive amount of groundwork it takes to advocate ideas, and I have a more thorough understanding of the civic process, efficiencies and pitfalls alike. I have a greater appreciation for my love of country and the people who fight and die to protect it.”
Boys State and Girls State educate future leaders about government, civics and patriotism in a “learn by doing” environment. Each delegate is nominated by teachers, counselors and local American Legion posts throughout Texas to attend a one-week seminar.
Among the Girls State participants representing Comal ISD this summer was Gentry Boykin from Pieper High School.
“Girls State is essentially a place where you learn about municipal, county and state government and what it takes to do those roles,” says Boykin, who serves as the captain of the track team, Student 2 Student, as well as being a member of the National Honor Society and the Superintendent Student Advisory at PHS. “You also develop writing and speaking skills that are essential to government, politics and law. It’s really about stepping outside of your comfort zone and being the best and confident version of yourself.”
Both Boykin and Hamilton noticed that strong communication and networking skills were necessary when it came to having your voice heard.
“The biggest lesson I learned through my experience was the value of servant leadership. People who talk with others derive the most value when they seek to listen and serve,” Hamilton says. “I saw how people succeeded when they were genuine and selfless.
“Boys Nation was much faster paced, but I learned about the value of being clear and concise with my words. At many points in the process, I gave speeches and advocated my party’s platform. The Boys Nation senators were incredibly smart, and they valued effective communicators. Although it’s constantly developing, communication is a skill that I hope to continue to develop.”
For Boykin, networking stood out among her peers.
“In a place where everyone is academically inclined, being personable and memorable is what helped gain a following and voters during elections,” she says. “Girls State was special mainly because of the bonds made. I grew so close to my roommate that it felt as if we knew each other our entire lives. We helped each other stay up late and write speeches and campaign.
“This experience has changed what I want to do, because now I know I’m definitively going into international law and later pivoting to politics,” Boykin says.
At both Boys State and Girls State, delegates are evenly split into fictional parties. Each party drafts party platforms, elects party officials, nominates candidates via primary elections, and contests a general election against the rival party and its candidates. The delegates run for many kinds of offices including state, district, county and city offices. Those elected to the House of Representatives and Senate spend the week drafting, debating and passing bills on a wide range of social and economic issues.
Students need to be sponsored in order to attend these summer programs. The American Legion Walton F. Hoffmann Memorial Post 179 sponsored many of the Texas Boys State participants this year for Comal ISD. A special, “thank you,” goes to the post’s Boys State Chair Bill Morrison.
In addition, the American Legion Business and Professional Post 10 sponsored two participants from PHS while Texas Bluebonnet Girls State sponsored six participants from PHS.
For more information on Texas Boys State, visit www.TexasBoysState.com.
For more information on Texas Girls State, visit www.girls-state.org.
Comal ISD 2023 Boys State and Girls State Graduates
From Canyon High School
- Cameron Griffin
- Jonathan Henley
- Ryan Lopez
From Davenport High School
- Stephanie Frieswyk
- Charleston Hogue
- Kailani Iannello
- Justin Johnson
- Ryan Johnson
- Gabriella Ladson
- Emma McClendon
- Caroline Sherwood
From Memorial Early College High School
- Owen McNamara
- Asa Reddell
- Thorin Thomason
From Pieper High School
- Addison Akers
- Tristan Allbritton
- Gentry Boykin
- Chibuike Onyenagada
- Destiny Pena
- Megan Phillips
- Mia Popoff
- Elizabeth Sanchez
From Smithson Valley High School
- Ryder Bonser
- Rowen Hamilton
- William Martin
- Jake McAnelly
- Maxen Powell
-Smithson Valley High School senior Rowen Hamilton was selected as one of two delegates from Texas Boys State to represent Texas at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C.
-Smithson Valley High School senior Rowen Hamilton participated in Boys Nation this summer as one of only two Texas delegates.
-Pieper High School senior Gentry Boykin represented Comal ISD at Girls State this summer.
-One of Gentry Boykin's campaign posters at Texas Girls State.