Evan Pittman took a break from heavy lifting and diving training to join the attendees at Arizona Boys State this past week on the Northern Arizona University campus.  While participating in the American Legion’s national program on leadership and citizenship, Evan had the chance to run for multiple elected positions and also won the Christopher J. Lapka Memorial Americanism Essay Award.

At Arizona Boys State, more than 250 rising high school seniors were divided into subgroups referred to as cities, and the citizens of each of these cities elected mock municipal officials and representatives to the mock state legislature.

During the week, Evan ran for and was elected as city councilman, mayor, marshal of the election board, state senator, and president of the senate.  He also played the national anthem on the violin for both the opening assembly and the closing awards presentation, and won the Christopher J. Lapka Americanism Essay award, named after an Arizona Boys State alum who left Arizona State University to join the U.S. Marine Corps after 9-11, and was subsequently killed in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.  Evan’s essay was entitled “Americanism:  My Guardians of Freedom,” and it detailed his family’s long legacy of military service.

“This award really means something, because it is named in honor of an Arizona Boys Stater who died in service to our country,” Evan said.  “My essay covered my family’s history, and my experience as a military family member, but Christopher Lapka made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”

“I really enjoyed my week at Boys State,” Evan added.  “It was humbling, and made me proud to be an American.  I enjoyed campaigning for office, and I was with a group of Arizona kids who were hard-working, compassionate, kind, and who really care about the direction of our country.  I made more friends in one week at Boys State than in two years of high school.”

Boys State is a summer leadership and citizenship program sponsored by The American Legion for high school juniors, and selection to the program is competitive; it is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students.  At Boys State, participants learn the rights and responsibilities of franchised citizens, and the training centers on the structure of city, county and state governments.  Operated by students elected to offices, Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.