Greenwood High School Senior Isaiah Belue, son of Richard and Lisa Belue, was one of 32 students elected to the Arkansas Boys State Senate on, May 29, as part of the 78th annual session of the program, which is sponsored by the Arkansas American Legion.
Arkansas Boys State, hosted at the University of Central Arkansas, is a youth leadership program for rising high school seniors that is designed to foster patriotism and relationship through a mock government scenario. Throughout the week, the students — called delegates — run for and elect one another to all levels of local and state government, attend breakout sessions, hear from keynote speakers, and build lifelong relationships.
“It was a really great experience,” said Belue. “Hopefully I will be able to return next year to be a counselor.”
Hon. Tommy Fowler, Arkansas Boys State director, said he has high hopes for the 518 delegates who are in attendance for this year’s session. This is Fowler’s 31st year with the program.
“We have a unique opportunity this week to leave a truly lasting impact on the lives of these delegates who will come through this program,” Fowler said. “We’re excited for these young men to experience this program that we all cherish, and we’re excited to see how they transform throughout week.”
As a senator, Belue had the opportunity to meet with Arkansas senators on May 31, to discuss, propose and draft mock legislation on different topics such as public health, education and taxes. Belue and his fellow Arkansas Boys State senators will then headed to the Capitol senate chamber on June 1, in Little Rock where they had the chance to debate and vote on the mock legislation.
“I learned the process of getting a bill passed in our state,” said Belue. “The biggest takeaways came from our leadership discussions that we had each day.”
The delegates as a whole are split into eight county designations, which are named after notable Arkansas figures and those who have made significant contributions to the Arkansas Boys State program.
The 69 staff members for the program are comprised of former Arkansas Boys State delegates, some of which have served the program for more than 40 years. Counties are led by junior, state and senior counselors, while an office staff, senior staff and Boys State commission aid the week from an administrative standpoint.
“Our staff are the best and brightest Arkansans from across the country,” Fowler said. “It’s always humbling to see our staff continue to volunteer a week of their year to help challenge and shape the future leaders of Arkansas.”
Belue stated that politics are interesting to him but at the moment he is more interested in the military. “If politics come up later in life that would be awesome.”