TALLAHASSEE Elijah Hooks of Chipley recently returned from serving as a counselor with the 77th Session of the Florida American Legion Boys State.
Hooks was selected to help counsel and engage more than 350 high school students from across the state in the youth leadership program, which is spearheaded by the American Legion Department of Florida and considered a rite of passed by many for the states distinguished leaders.
FALBS is a living civics lesson for its young delegates, who spend the week at the Capitol participating in activities which simulate government proceedings and forming an operational system of city, county, and state government.
Because the program itself is nonpartisan, delegates are divided into mythical parties called Nationalists and Federalists in which none of the principles characterized by any of the existing parties are be adopted.
The group met with leaders on the state and federal level throughout the week, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov.Jeanette Nunez, and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.
Hooks, a 2020 graduate of Chipley High School, began his interest in civics early, having served his senior year as President of the CHS Student Government Association.
He says he seized the opportunity to nurture that interest in other youth by serving as a counselor for this years FALBS participants, a role he filled alongside community leaders throughout Florida, including representatives from the within the education system and the Florida Highway Patrol.
19-year-old Hooks is a young leader in his own right, often present at local city and county meetings and having recently become the youngest member ever appointed to the Chipley Redevelopment Agency.
I had an amazing experience being a counselor for the 77th Session of the FALBS, said Hooks. Being able to guide, inspire, and teach the future generation of leaders of this state is just astounding. This program upholds the key principles of God and country, and thats why I was so honored to be a part of it.
The programs State Director, Forrest D. Boone, said the purpose of the program is to provide an understanding of civics that will better position delegates to serve their communities, regardless of where life takes them.
Most of them will end up somewhere else [other than in politics], said Boone. Whether thats business or medicine or the military, law enforcement, something like that; but all of them will be able to be engaged civically, even in that, whether thats through a trade association or a union or the officer structure of their branch of the military.