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Scotch Plains/Fanwood — Education Top Stories

Jersey Boys State Trains Future Leaders

John Mooney

Monday, July 7, 2014 • 12:24am

SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD, NJ -- Two rising Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School seniors – John Cavaliere of Scotch Plains and John Musso from Fanwood – and one rising senior at Union Catholic -- Daniel Florendo -- were among the teenagers from across the state who participated in this year's American Legion Jersey Boys State (ALJBS), a program to develop good citizens. 

Boys State aims to inspire young people to take a more active interest in government, the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship, and the sacrifices made by our veterans to preserve our way of life. Held at Rider University for one week each summer, ALJBS has a strong tradition of education, patriotism and excellence in the development of tomorrow's leaders.

The program educates youth in the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship as it provides a foundation for understanding self-government, a rational approach toward the solution of public questions, and live processes of democracy.  A complete program of educational and recreational activity is provided, and a newspaper is published daily.

The instructional program includes seminars, held on subjects such as government, law enforcement, and election procedures, functional activity of citizenship practice, such as the operation of the courts and legislative assemblies through which citizens "learn by doing.”

Cavaliere represented Post #209 in City #3, Florendo represented Post #3 in City #5, and Musso represented Post #209 in City #11 at Boys State.

The concept for Boys State was developed in 1935 by Hayes Kennedy, a professor at the Loyola University School of Law in Chicago.  He started the program to inform and inspire participation in our democratic form of government. Today, the American Legion conducts a Boys State program in every state except Hawaii.

“I continue to reflect fondly on my experience at Boys State and still draw on the lessons learned in the program,” said Senator Cory Booker, who delivered an address at the 69th session this year and was a delegate at Jersey Boys State in 1986.

“Jersey Boys State is one of my inspirations for dedicating my life to public and community service. By encouraging our youth to be engaged members of our democratic system and teaching them the tenants of community engagement and civic service we enable them make our towns, our nation, and our world a better place,” Booker added.

Boys State came to New Jersey in 1946. From the start, Harold "Chief" Eaton was the director until his death in 1984. Under Eaton's direction, it developed into one of the preeminent Boys State programs in the country. Notable alumni include Gov. Chris Christie (1979 Boys Nation Senator); both of New Jersey's U.S. Senators Robert "Bob" Menendez (1971) and Booker (1986); Congressman Leonard Lance, whose district covers parts of Scotch Plains (1969); and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito (1967).

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