Marines Mentor N.Y. Brightest
By Cpl. Michael D. Darbouze
| | June 24, 2006
MORRISVILLE, N.Y. --
More than 1,000 of the brightest students from New York’s class of 2007 attended this years American Legion Boys’ State session held aboard the State University of New York Morrisville College from June 24 – 29.
When the students weren’t in a session learning about the workings of the government or taking part in their mock government, they were in the hands of those who ensure democracy will always have its rightful place on earth.
“The Marines have been amazing,” said David O’Brien, program director, American Legion Boys’ State New York. “They (exercise) with the kids in the morning; teach them drill; conduct room inspections; take (the kids) to breakfast, voting, assembly, lunch and dinner.”
The 12 Marines from Recruiting Stations Albany, Buffalo, New York, and 1st Marine Corps District did more than just provide an escort according to the former mayor of Waterville, N.Y.
O’Brien said the Marines “taught the kids respect and discipline and helped to build unity amongst the students” in just the few days they had with them.
Dave Downey, who has been a counselor with Boys’ State for seven years, said he believes the Marines help to make the program better with the professionalism and discipline they bring to the table.
“The Marines help give the program structure and organization,” Downey said. “They also help make the kids better boys when they go home.
“I had a parent write me saying their son was saying ‘yes Ma’am and sir’ and making his bed two weeks after returning from Boys’ State. She was very pleased with the change.”
Kyle Eggleston, senior, Groton Central School, said he has heard stories about Marines from his brother and classmates that went to Boys’ State before him, but he was impressed in his first interaction with a Marine.
“I believe the Marines are the best of all the military branches,” Eggleston said. “They are hard workers that will get the job done no matter what.”
“They have done a good job,” add Michael Kravec, senior, Horseheads High School. “I can see a difference in the (mock) county.”
O’Brien said this is the type of impression the Marines leave on about 99 percent of the kids.
“A New York Boys’ State representative last year that went on to be the president at Boys’ Nation and will be attending Harvard on a full scholarship, told me that the Marines are some of the best men he has ever met in his life.”
Staff Sgt. Alexander Vivas said he enjoys participating in Boys’ State because it gives him an opportunity to be a positive role model to good kids and answer any questions they might have about the military and the Marine Corps.
“I enjoy seeing some of the changes in the kids from the first day we meet them,” said the three-year Boys’ State participant. “Some of the kids seem a little more disciplined and have a better sense of pride in [themselves] by the end of the week.”
According to O’Brien, who has been working with Boys’ State for 28 years, Boys’ State educates New York’s brightest kids about the government, and the mentorship the Marines provide helps make their futures even brighter regardless of what their future endeavors may be.