Benjamin McFarlin, 17, was chosen as one of two outstanding representatives from Georgia to attend the American Legions’ Boys Nation as a senator in Washington, D.C., for a week in July.
The weeklong program introduces the young senators to the structure and function of the federal government while combining lectures and forums with visitations to federal agencies, institutions, memorials and historical spots in and around Washington, D.C.
McFarlin, the son of Linda and Rolly McFarlin of Canton, wants to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., after he graduates next year, and he hopes his summer experiences help him make the grade to go to the prestigious military school.
“My dad served in (the) Army and National Guard for 26 years,” McFarlin said. “I have seen all he has done and look up to him, and compelled for my own reasons to serve my country, and I know that the best way to do that is to attend West Point.”
The rising senior at Creekview said he applied first to Boys State through the American Legion Post 45 in Canton where he competed with a dozen young men for a spot at the state level.
McFarlin made the cut and traveled by bus to Statesboro to attend the Georgia Boys State comprehensive one-week course on state and local government.
He was one of 364 young men from around the state to attend Boys State at Georgia Southern University June from 14 to 20.
“I learned a lot about how state government works. I had never had that kind of first-hand experience,” McFarlin said. “It also gave those attending the opportunity to use your speaking skill and learn better how to interact with people. We gained tons of experience.”
In its 66th year, Boys Nation has been conducted by by the American Legion every year since 1940.
At the Boys State graduation ceremony, Charlie Tucker, program director, announced the names of two students selected by the sponsors to attend the even more elite 2012 American Legion Boys Nation, which will be held just outside the nation’s capitol on the campus of Marymount University in Arlington, Va., July 20 to 28.
McFarlin was selected “Senior Senator” for Georgia, while Jed Wheeler, a rising senior at Loganville High School in Loganville, was named “Junior Senator.”
Payton Jonson, a rising senior at Strong Rock Christian School in Locust Grove, was named alternate.
The two Georgia senators will join 96 other high school representatives from across the country.
While McFarlin has been to the nation’s capital before on school trips and family vacations, he said this is a unique opportunity.
“This will be first time to have the opportunity to personally meet with leaders of government, such as state senators and congressmen and the president,” McFarlin said of being chosen to Boys Nation.
At Creekview, McFarlin plays golf, serves as president of the environmental club and co-executive of Habit for Humanity chapter, and takes all honors and AP classes.
Prior to attending Boys Nation, McFarlin will attend a two-week field study course beginning June 23 at Duke University then fly to The Hague, Netherlands to learn about international law and study the war crimes tribunals of Nuremburg, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and the former Yugoslavia.
McFarlin will only have four days after he returns from Boys Nation before schools starts.
“I have five AP classes my senior year,” he said, laughing, “I have a math assignment due the first week of school.”
Boys Nation is designed to inspire a strong devotion to America while providing a practical view of federal government procedures. Many of the current great leaders of our country are Boys Nation Alumni.
Past attendees of the Boys State/Nation programs have included former President Bill Clinton; Senator Harry Reid; former Governors Mike Huckabee and George Pataki; astronaut Neil Armstrong; broadcasters Tom Brokaw and Rush Limbaugh; and many more.