MANHATTAN — Around 420 boys from across Kansas who are preparing to enter their senior year in high school are scheduled to participate in the 82nd session of the American Legion Boys State of Kansas Leadership Academy starting this coming weekend in Manhattan.

The event, in its 82nd year, will take place Sunday, June 2, to Friday, June 7, at Kansas State University.

Boys State organizers said the event provides experience in leadership and teamwork that promotes mutual respect and instills civic responsibility.

Organizers said Boys State is an interactive simulation that teaches high school seniors-to-be the value of democracy and civic duty. Participants form mock governments and they  campaign for positions at the city, county and state levels. After the elections, participants find out firsthand the difficult decisions made daily by those in government through a series of challenging simulations.

Delegates, who are nominated to attend by their high school counselors and other influential people in their lives, are sponsored by American Legion posts and various civic organizations from across the state.

The Boys State program was founded by Legionnaires Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card in Illinois in 1935. It was first held in Kansas two years later in Wichita. The Kansas program moved to the University of Kansas in Lawrence in 1963 and remained there until 1991. The following year, it moved to its current location at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, 2018 Kansas Boys State delegate from Dodge City High School, will be the featured speaker in opening ceremonies at 2:45 p.m. Sunday at McCain Auditorium. Rangel-Lopez, who recently graduated from Dodge City High School, was a plaintiff in a voting-rights lawsuit in October 2018 against Ford County when it was announced the only voting site in Dodge City the following month would be at a location outside the city limits.

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