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Missouri Association of Rural Education



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2018 American Legion Boys State

July 2018 Contact: MBS Headquarters 1-877-342-5627                                                                            


(WARRENSBURG, MO) – Johnny Tyler Kooyman from Malden High School and Kevin Morris from Willard High School, both sponsored by the Missouri Association of Rural Education, were among 915 outstanding Missouri students to participate in the 79th session of The American Legion Boys State of Missouri program held June 16-23 on the campus of the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

Missouri Boys State is designed to educate and train young leaders in functional citizenship, leadership, and government. The student leaders, “citizens”, combine their knowledge and skills to build an entire operational state government in a single week which includes electing city, county, and state officials. Boys State is a pure democracy in that all citizens may vote and are eligible to hold office. Participants fully engage in activities during the eight-day program as they gain an understanding of government, learn about their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and enhance their leadership and citizenship skills.

Kooyman and Morris were nominated to attend this once in a lifetime experience by their high schools and selected based on their academics, leadership, citizenship, and character. As a sponsor, the Missouri Association of Rural Education afforded Kooyman and Morris the opportunity to participate in A Week to Shape a Lifetime - Missouri Boys State by funding the program fee.

Kooyman (son of Denton Kooyman) participates in the A+ Program and is a member of the Beta Club. He is in the Malden High School Choir and is on the Football and Golf teams. He is also a Youth Sports Official and is employed. During the week of Boys State, Kooyman was a Citizen of Pershing City and a Member of the Federalist Party. He attended the Public Administration School where he gained an understanding of the city and county level government structures. He was elected and fulfilled the duties as a County Commissioner for Scott County and served as a Delegate to State Convention, Ward III and the Assistant Athletic Director. In addition, Kooyman opened and ran a business where he learned the economic impact of a business on his city, the importance of complying with city, county, and state laws and oridances, and how to pay taxes on the revenue generated by his business. He also was on the ballot for City Council, Ward III

Morris (son of Jill Berry and Kevin Morris) participates in the A+ Program, Band, College Bound Program, Foreign Language - Spanish, and Gifted Program. He is a member of the History Club, Do Only Intelligent Things Club, Soccer team, and plays in the High School Orchestra. Morris earned an Academic Letter and was named to the Honor Roll. He is also active in his Church Youth Group and Boys Scouts of America and is employed. At Missouri Boys State, Morris was a Citizen of Richardson City and a Member of the Federalist Party. He attended the Law School and passed the Boys State Bar Exam which allowed him to become an Attorney. He was then elected and heard cases as a Circuit Judge. Morris was a member of the Boys State Bugle Corps in addition to serving as Beverage Commissioner; Assistant Health Commissioner, Ward II; and Delegate to State Convention, Ward II.

During Boys State and along with all participants, Kooyman and Morris were involved in a wide variety of educational and recreational activities and heard inspirational talks from and asked questions of both state and national leaders. Speakers for the 2018 session included: Kansas City Mayor Sly James; Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt; Political Analyst Juan Williams; Businessman and Chocolatier Shawn Askinosie (Missouri Boys State Alum and Governor - 1978 and honored as the Missouri Boys State 2018 Alumnus of the Year); and Executive Vice President at the Aspen Institute Eric Motley.

The entire Boys State staff is comprised of educational, legal, professional, and civic leaders who volunteer their time each year. Missouri Boys State is a 501(c)(3) organization and is a Missouri American Legion program. Students have the opportunity to participate in this nationally recognized program due to sponsors, like MARE. Sponsors are critical to the continued success of the program since students and their families are not allowed to pay any portion of the program fee. Organizations, businesses, and individuals interested in becoming a sponsor are encouraged to contact the Missouri Boys State Headquarters at 1-877-342-5627.

Students who will be juniors during the 2018-19 academic year and are interested in participating should contact their High School counselor and visit the Missouri Boys State website at moboysstate.org. The 2019 session will be held June 15-22. Informational presentations by a Boys State staff member may be requested by contacting the Missouri Boys State Headquarters at 1-877-342-5627 or email bettie.rusher@moboysstate.org.