American Legion Post 118 and Auxiliary celebrated another successful year at Boys State and Girls State. The events are sponsored by the American Legion and Auxiliary and are held each summer at Northwestern State University.
On Tuesday night the delegates, their parents, friends and members of the American Legion gathered in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church to celebrate. Peggy Ray introduced the delegates saying they were there “to recognize outstanding students in 11th grade who had a week-long experience in government.” Ray added their biggest complaint: “Not enough sleep!”
Girls State delegates were Gracie Almond and Adriana Bradley from Riverdale Academy and Tianna Rock from Red River High School. Almond and Bradley had other engagements and were not at the celebration. Rock spoke on their behalf thanking the American Legion for sending them. Rock said, “My time was wonderful because of late night working on speeches. If you work hard for something you will succeed.” Rock said her friends she met at Girls State helped her “bring myself up and build my confidence. All of the girls were so supportive.”
Boys State delegates were Brandon Gay, Reagan Prosperie and Payton Thornton all of Riverdale Academy. Brandon Gay spoke first “It was a life changing experience and I met a lot of new friends.” Gay echoed other delegates talking about late night sessions, writing and making speeches. “I have a new respect for government and how it works,” he added. Gay was elected Senator from Tensas Parish. One of his roommates went on to Boys Nation in Washington, DC and got to meet President Donald Trump.
Delegate Reagan Prosperie said, “It is an experience I will never forget. I ran for state representative. I had to write many bills.” Prosperie added, “It was a fun job and thanks for sending me.”
Delegate Payton Thornton said, “Honestly I did not know what to expect upon arrival at NSU. People don’t understand. It is not just a bunch of crazy guys partying 24/7. We worked out butts off!” Thornton said he made lifelong friends. “We did everything together for a whole week. It was really a life-changing experience that made me a better man and a better citizen of Coushatta.” Thornton ran for Director of Finance for the city of Caddo in Atchafalaya Parish. He also ran for State Treasurer but lost in a runoff.
Local sponsorship for Boys State and Girls State came from Almond Brothers Lumber Company, American Bank and Trust, Bank of Coushatta, Bethard and Bethard, Ed Lester Farms and Mabile’s Pharmacy. Past Commander of the American Legion Post Joe Smith told the gathering, “We are the only post that sends their delegates to Boys State and Girls State. Delegates from other posts have to pay their own way. We are the only ones and it is a challenge to our sponsors to meet the needs of sending delegates.
Local Attorney Henry Bethard was a delegate the first Boys State held in Louisiana. Local delegates have been sent by the local post since 1946.