Students get hands-on government experience

Faith Biddle

Area high school juniors recently completed an eight-day, city, county and state government educational program sponsored by the Ohio American Legion and Auxiliary.

Buckeye Boys State and Buckeye Girls State programs took place June 11-18, with Boys State at Miami University and Girls State at the University of Mount Union.

The programs are designed to educate young men and women in the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of good citizenship by getting involved in the process.

Faith Biddle, of Burgoon, attends Lakota High School. She said once she got adjusted, meeting and getting comfortable with the other girls, she started to have “a blast.”

“My brother went to Buckeye Boys State last year and had a blast, so I was interested in going,” Biddle said.

Elise Gucker

Biddle plays on the volleyball, basketball and club volleyball teams, is the vice president of her class and vice president of student council. She also is involved in prom committee and works at DJs Coffee and Ice Cream in Fremont.

During Buckeye Girls State, Biddle served on the state highway patrol as sergeant.

“I loved this because we were very physically active and everyone looked up to us and thought very highly of us,” she said.

Throughout her experience, Biddle learned there are girls and people in this world who are supportive and respectful because she’s from Ohio.

“I also learned to keep fighting even when times get rough,” Biddle said. “Never leave people behind and always have a positive attitude.”

Bryndon Young

Biddle said she also got to feel what it was like to be on a college campus, to stay in a dorm and put herself out there to meet new people.

Following graduation, Biddle said she hopes to attend a four-year college and earn a degree in business in either accounting or management.

Bryndon Young, of Fostoria, who is entering her senior year at Hopewell-Loudon High School, wanted to attend Buckeye Girls State to learn more about government.

“I’m almost old enough to vote, so I thought it was important to know about my government and how it functions,” Young said.

While at Girls State, Young served in two positions, one as her city’s central committeeman — who tallied all the party caucuses and planned the party’s platform — and the other as the recreation commissioner — in which she drew a park and planned an event for which she had to create a budget.

In her positions, Young said she had to help clean the city of Alliance’s food pantry and load trucks of items donated as part of the Buckeye Girls State community service project.

“I loved going to help out the pantry,” she said. “I’m involved in National Honor Society at my school, so I volunteer a lot. That is part of the reason I wanted that job.”

Young said she learned women can do anything they put their minds to.

“There are a lot of intelligent and hard-working young women across Ohio that can one day do great things,” she said. “I saw first hand how in such a short period of time, 46 strangers become the best of friends and help each other get through that week in ways we didn’t even know about.”

Following graduation, Young said she plans to attend college, but is unsure of the path she plans to pursue.

Young also is a member of the Spanish Club.

Elise Gucker, of Sycamore, said she enjoys her government class at Mohawk High School, in which she has decided to pursue a career in criminal prosecution and justice administration.

“I figured this would be a great opportunity to learn more about that field,” she said.

While at Girls State, Gucker said she ran for the county judge position, but lost in the second round of elections. She later was appointed as the city health director.

“Participation in Buckeye Girls State has given me a better understanding of all the duties and responsibilities of government officials,” Gucker said.

Gucker is captain of the varsity cheer squad and a member of student council.

Other local students who attended Buckeye Girls State include Brooklyn Gebhardt and Morgan Mulloland, both of Sycamore; Chloe Brubaker of Bellevue; Charlotte Hoefert and Kayla Klotz, both of Clyde; Bridget Daniel of Tiffin; Allison Drown, Karina Solis and Paige Sturgill, all of Republic; Courtney Heiser and Kira Stanfield-Pazmino, both of Attica; Jacquelyn Lininger of New Riegel; Makenna Linkey of Bradner; and Taylor Frey and Lucy Smith, both of Upper Sandusky.

Local students who attended Buckeye Boys State included Zachary Anderson, Josh Jenne, Lewis Orr, Cy Ungerer, Austin Culbertson and Jack Zamora, all of Green Springs; Brenden Dean, Spencer Sawyer, Mason Tolbert and Robert Webb, all of Clyde; Mitchell Smith of Bellevue; Ryan Alvarado, Charles Ardner, Luke Bolte, Dominic Hedrick and Stephen Simon, all of Tiffin; Brandon Best, Matthew Cole, Dylan Kalb and Zachary Young, all of Republic; Benjamin Dryfuse, Austin Lescallett, Jacob Nye and Kamren Zirger, all of New Riegel; Dante Hampton and Zachary Kreais, both of Fostoria; Brock Martin of Attica; Nathan Walter of Bradner; and Ian Cameron of Upper Sandusky.