By Nicole Walby
BOWLING GREEN - More than 1,200 high school students from across Ohio participated in Buckeye Boys State this week, over 30 of which were local seniors.
Christopher Gates and Hunter Stark, both entering their senior years next fall at Columbian High School, received high government positions.
Gates was elected as Treasurer of State for Madaffer city and Stark was elected as the speaker of the House of Representatives for Waite city.
Gates has a real interest in government. History has always been his best subject, he said.
"I wanted to come here to learn more about the government and what it entails day in and day out," Gates said. "It has been an experience of a lifetime."
As treasurer, Gates controls all the incoming state funds, reports to the budget management offices, and keeps track of all the money going in and out of the governor's office and funds for any new programs.
"My job is important because I am essentially the bank of the government," he said. "It has given me a better understanding of how the economy and financial sense plays a role in our lives."
Gates plans to go to college after he graduates, to study economics.
"Anyone who has a drive to be involved in something bigger, Buckeye Boys State is for them," Gates said.
Buckeye Boys State began June 9 and will end with graduation today. The first few days the boys campaigned and elected officials and by Wednesday began working in their selected positions.
Stark was selected to go to Boys State with the help of history teacher Todd Edmond.
The first day, Stark was elected to the House of Representatives and then appointed as speaker of the house. His job is to run the sessions, assist in writing bills, vote on resolutions, and make motions, Stark said.
"I have learned a lot so far," Stark said. "I have learned all the procedures and how hard it is to get a bill passed through congress. It is definitely a lot harder than I thought. It is hard to get everyone to agree."
Stark said the language also was something he had to get used to.
"The legal language is very different than normal conversation," he said.
Stark said he also has learned a lot about leadership ability through participating in Boys State. He said that he would like to go to college to study medicine and the communication skills he has learned will help him across all the different areas.
Buckeye Boys State was founded in 1936, and moer than 90,000 boys have participated in the program since, Boys State Director Gerald White said.
"The eight-day program is equal to a years time in the government system. One day is equal to three months," White said. "The boys hold (mock) positions in city, county and state government; the law, newspaper, even the online media."
White describes the program as a "week to shape a lifetime."
Since the program began, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Attorney General Mike Dewine and Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy came to speak to the boys, White said.
Alec Miller of Bloomville is going to take his experience as a Boys State Trooper and further his career in college. Miller plans to study criminal justice once he graduates from Wynford High School. Miller said he also wants to enter into the State Trooper Academy.
"This is an important experience," Miller said. "By being here we gain knowledge of what to do when we are done her, it puts us on the right track."