Nearly 50 local high school seniors were involved in mock government as participants of Buckeye Boys State and Buckeye Girls State.
Buckeye Girls State was June 10 through Saturday at University of Mount Union in Alliance, and Buckeye Boys State was June 10 through Sunday at Bowling Green State University.
Jordan Gase, a senior at Calvert High School, was elected mayor of Merritt city. She said she had planned to run for mayor when she went to Buckeye Girls State because her brother, who went to Buckeye Boys State two years ago, told her to run for it if she didn't want to spent a lot of time campaigning but still wanted to have a leadership position.
Gase said she was happy she ran for the position.
"It was just a great experience," she said.
Gase said it was indescribable how nice it was getting to know all the girls in her city. With 57 girls in the city, it was the second largest at Buckeye Girls State, she said.
"Just knowing that everyone knew that I was giving my hardest and that that's what I really wanted to do. I think they were all happy that I was selected mayor," she said.
Gase said she spent every night after being elected running city meetings and lost her voice from yelling. She said she did her best.
"It was so rewarding," she said.
Gase said she hadn't taken a government class yet, so she wasn't sure how government would be set up. She said she learned behind-the-scenes information about how caucuses work and how positions are run, and the experience made her excited for government class next school year.
She said the best part of Buckeye Girls State was meeting many people and making friends she thinks she will have for a lifetime.
Gase, who didn't want to leave at the end of the week, said Buckeye Girls State was a rewarding and humbling experience, and anyone who gets to go is blessed.
"I can't even get over how fun it was," she said.
Tyler Ruble, a senior at Hopewell-Loudon High School, described his experience at Buckeye Boys State as perfect. He said he wasn't eager to go at first because he wasn't interested in politics and thought politics would be 90 percent of the experience. However, he said he learned more than politics, and the experience was well worth
Ruble lost an election for a city council seat and was appointed the safety-service director of Spaeth city. He said it was a fun job because he was able to assist the mayor with some of his duties. He also oversaw the police department and city engineer.
"I was very happy with (the appointment)," he said.
Ruble said he enjoyed his job but it wasn't something he wants to do full time.
"I learned I don't want to do it on a regular basis," he said. "It was fun, but it wasn't that much fun."
Ruble said when he was at Buckeye Boys State, he made 40 friends who became his family.
"We all just really bonded," he said.
Gov. John Kasich spoke to the Buckeye Boys State delegation Friday and questioned who was going to be successful. He said being selected for Buckeye Boys State meant they had something going for
them, and somebody saw an outstanding student.
"That's really cool. ... Academic performance matters," he said.
Kasich said he had a lot of dreams when he was a young boy. He encouraged delegates to develop friendships with people who convince them that they can have their dreams.
"Never let anybody talk you out of your dreams. ... You don't want to be hanging around with dream snatchers," he said.
The governor talked to the delegates about having a relationship and friendship with the Lord and said people have a creator who is charge of the universe. He reflected how his parents were killed by a drunk driver and that he had to make up his mind about whether God existed.
"This is about a relationship," he said.
Kasich encouraged delegates to find their purpose and said he believes their purpose is God-given.
"You only live once. ... You are not in this world alone," he said.