LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ - Seven Clark residents recently had the opportunity to participate in this year's American Legion Jersey Boys State (ALJBS), a program designed to develop good citizens. They were among the more than 900 teenagers from across the state to create a mythical "51st" state.
The boys from Clark, their sponsoring American Legion Post and Boys State City assignments and elected/appointed positions were:
- Anthony Filiciello - (Post #328) was in City #5, member of Nationalist Party
- Lucas Gallo - (Post #328) was in City #18, elected City Councilman, elected County Freeholder (Nationalist Party)
- Javon Hicks - (Post #12) was in City #7, appointed as Police Officer
- David Luis - (Post #328) was in City #10, appointed as City Treasurer
- Albert Martin - (Post #328) was in City #10, appointed to Board of Education
- Brian Milara - (Post #328) was in City #11, newspaper editor, appointed as Director of Parks and Public Property
- Brendan Mulvihill - (Post #328) was in City #11, member of Federalist Party
Boys State aims to inspire young people to take a more active interest in government, the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship, and the sacrifices made by our veterans to preserve our way of life. Held at Rider University for one week each summer, ALJBS has a strong tradition of education, patriotism and excellence in the development of tomorrow's leaders.
The program educates youth in the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship as it provides a foundation for understanding self-government, a rational approach toward the solution of public questions, and live processes of democracy. A complete program of educational and recreational activity is provided, and a newspaper is published daily.
The instructional program is conducted in three phases. Seminars are held on subjects such as government, law enforcement, and election procedures. Functional activities take a “learn by doing” approach to citizenship practices such as the operation of the courts, legislative assemblies, law enforcement administration, and public welfare. General assemblies unite all citizens and are a time for lectures on pertinent subjects and a platform through which the leaders of the two Boy States parties present their platforms.
Clark resident Anthony Feliciello was sponsored by Clark Post #328 and was a constituent in City #5. He was the third member of his family to attend the American Legion program. His brother had attended Boys State and his sister participated in the Girls State program. He most enjoyed the General Assemblies and said, “The most rewarding part of the experience was the speakers who talked about what it means to be a true American. They talked about having respect and morality and taking pride in who you are. Their talk of being a nationalist had a big impact on me.”
The concept for Boys State was developed in 1935 by Hayes Kennedy, a professor at the Loyola University School of Law in Chicago. He started the program to inform and inspire participation in our democratic form of government. Today, the American Legion conducts a Boys State program in every state except Hawaii.
“I continue to reflect fondly on my experience at Boys State and still draw on the lessons learned in the program,” said Senator Cory Booker, who delivered an address at the 69th session this year and was a delegate at Jersey Boys State in 1986.
“Jersey Boys State is one of my inspirations for dedicating my life to public and community service. By encouraging our youth to be engaged members of our democratic system and teaching them the tenants of community engagement and civic service we enable them make our towns, our nation, and our world a better place,” Booker added.
Boys State came to New Jersey in 1946. From the start, Harold "Chief" Eaton was the director until his death in 1984. Under Eaton's direction, it developed into one of the preeminent Boys State programs in the country. Notable alumni include Gov. Chris Christie (1979 Boys Nation Senator); both of New Jersey's U.S. Senators Robert "Bob" Menendez (1971) and Booker (1986); Congressman Leonard Lance, whose district covers parts of Clark (1969); and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito (1967).