Young men from across the State of Kansas will be participating in the 2021 session of the American Legion Boys State of Kansas. The event, in its 83rd year, returns after last year’s session was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s session will be held Sunday, Aug. 1, through Saturday, June 7, at Kansas State University in Manhattan.
Traditionally, Kansas Boys State has been for individuals who have completed their junior year of high school (will be seniors in the fall). With last year’s cancellation, the ALBSK program expanded the pool of registrants for this year’s session to include those who completed their senior year of high school (those who missed out on last year’s event due to the pandemic and will be college freshmen in the fall), as well as individuals who completed their sophomore year of high school (juniors in the fall).
The ALBSK provides a relevant, interactive, problem-solving experience in leadership and teamwork that develops self-identity, promotes mutual respect and instills civic responsibility. Boys State is a “learning by doing” political exercise that simulates elections, political parties and government at the state, county and local levels, providing opportunities to lead under pressure, showcasing character and working effectively within a team. It’s also an opportunity to gain pride and respect for government and the price paid by members of the military to preserve democracy.
Among the major events and special speakers during the week (some events are open to the public unless noted; members of the media are invited to attend all events).
· Sunday, August 1
o Opening ceremonies, 2:45 p.m., Forum Hall, K-State Union
§ Keynote speaker: Kendall Gammon, who played 15 seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. He was the first pure long-snapper selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 2004. Gammon, a 1992 graduate of Pittsburg (Kan.) State University, is a special assistant to PSU President Steve Scott. He is an inspirational speaker who uses emotional strength to embrace change, build stronger relationships and directly impact success in self, family and professional life.
· Monday, August 2
o Swearing in of KBS mayors, 7 p.m., Assembly Area (Marlatt Hall parking lot [northeast of building on Claflin Road])
o Party caucuses, 7:45 to 10:15 p.m., Federalist Party, Durland Hall, Room 1077, and Nationalist Party, Durland Hall, Room 1066 — Each party will select their candidates for the six state offices and formulate their party platforms. This is not open to the public.
· Tuesday, August 3
o KBS governor candidates’ debate, 1 to 2 p.m., Forum Hall, K-State Student Union
o Announcement of KBS general election winners for state offices and swearing in ceremony, 7 p.m., Assembly Area
· Wednesday, August 4
o Flag Retirement Ceremony, 7:30 p.m., World War II Memorial in front of McCain Auditorium
o KBS governor’s inaugural address, American Legion Department of Kansas Commander Marri Krupco address and talent show, 8 p.m., Forum Hall, K-State Student Union
· Thursday, August 5
o Keynote speaker Jane Elliott, 7:45 p.m., Forum Hall, K-State Student Union. Elliott, who will be speaking virtually, is an internationally known teacher, lecturer and diversity trainer, and a recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education. In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Elliott devised the controversial and startling, “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise.” This now famous exercise labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority.
· Saturday, August 7
o Closing ceremonies, 9 to 10:45 p.m., Forum Hall, K-State Union
§ Keynote speaker Erik Bergrud, chief strategic communications officer, Park University (Parkville, Mo.). Bergrud is a nationally recognized public administration and civic engagement speaker.
§ Announcement of Outstanding Citizens from each KBS city
For those who cannot attend these events, the Boys State of Kansas will provide updates and live video during the week on its Facebook page, facebook.com/KansasBoysState.