Coushatta’s American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Post 118 held their annual recognition banquet this week for the students they sponsored to Boys and Girls State. The event was held at Northwestern State University over the summer.
Peggy Ray of the Auxiliary opened the program with a brief remembrance of three American Legion members who had passed away during the prior year. They are Henry Bethard, Johnny Duco and Willie Robinson. Ray said, “They were charter members of the Post and had remained active throughout the years. We will miss them.”
Henry Bethard had been a delegate to the very first Boys State in Louisiana. The year was 1940. Bethard was among 110 delegates to “Pelican Boys State.” Three years earlier Bethard had attended the very first Boy Scouts of American National Jamboree held in Washington, DC.
Each delegate presented their observations from their week. Teanna Eason, representing Red River High, went first. Eason said, “I was frightened at first but got to know a bunch of great girls. I enjoyed running for School Board but the highlight of the week was the dance the last night.”
Delegate Charli Williams, also from Red River High, said, “I wanted to go home after the first day. The food was definitely not my grandmother’s cooking. But it was the best week of my life. I got to help create a school. I got to see how much work Superintendent (Alison) Hughes does just to keep the schools running. It was life changing, and I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Delegate Sagar Patel recalled he had no idea what he was getting into, but several people and his counselor advised him to go. “As I got settled in, I knew it would be unforgettable,” said Patel, “I was elected Insurance Commission for my city and parish. I ran for state but did not make it.” He said the people he met at Boys State became more than friends, “they are brothers and my family.”
Delegate Logan Smith represented Central School at Boys State. He said, “I had no idea what was going to happen until I got there. I was put into a group and they became a family. I am still in contact with friends I made. At the end, I did not want to go home.
All of the delegates spoke of all night sessions writing speeches and preparing for elections. All said they enjoyed making new friends, learning how our state and local governments work, and enjoying the week-long experience. Some said they wanted to return next year as a counselor to others going through the Boys and Girls State experience.
Applications for 2019 Boys and Girls State will be taken next spring. Students interested may get information on line or from their school counselors.