The 74 current Boys State participants were treated to a Q&A session with a panel of former governors at the Governor Inauguration Night event, held Tuesday, June 11. Along with getting to ask them questions, some of the panel took the podium to talk about their experience with Boys State and their life after.
“It is so neat to have those former governors to have a chance to talk to these Boys Staters. It’s just fantastic,” North Dakota Boys State Director Neil Litton said. “It’s just an outstanding night and an outstanding way for these young men to get a glimpse of the past and into the future.”
There was a wide range of ages on the stage at the Harry Stern and Ella Stern Cultural Center. Last year’s governor, Teddy Mayer, and all the way back to the 1947 governor Kirk Smith shared their wisdom with the group. Smith did it with style.
“It was like, 'We’ll bring the mic to you,' and he grabs the mic and makes his way to the podium to speak. It’s just unreal,” Litton said. “(Smith’s) been back pretty much every year since he was governor.”
John McLaughlin, who was governor 50 years ago, discussed the world in 1969. He talked about all the turmoil when he was in high school and the resemblance to what’s going on in the country today, but stressed there’s always positive constants in life like Boys State.
“Governor McLaughlin was talking about how it was hard for him to believe he was standing there 50 years ago. He said he doesn’t even feel 50 years old, but he’s 67. He had a great message for the kids,” Litton said. “The turbulence that was going on in our country at that time, for someone to become governor and want to return to give a message to the kids is wonderful.”
The keynote speaker was Brian Shawn from Midco Sports Network. Although he didn’t participate in the event when he was in high school, Shawn stressed the importance of leadership.
“Our former Dean of Counselors is a Lion in Fargo and he had heard him speak at the Lion’s Club. He thought he had a good message that would translate well to the young men that are going to become leaders of our country,” Litton said.
Nikoli Schoenborn of Bottineau, North Dakota, was elected this year’s governor and the event wraps up on Friday, June 14.
In addition to electing a governor, delegates also elected the following state office-holders: Lieutenant Governor Jacob Reinche, Bottineau; Secretary of State Gavin Sunderland, Fargo; Attorney General Ethan Haynes, Dickinson; State Treasurer Timothy Hulbert, Horace; State Auditor Jacob Shelver, Fargo; Agriculture Commissioner Adam Punton, Ayr.
Thursday's events end with the Governor's Ball, and Friday, the students will hear from U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer and take part in the Boys State Awards ceremony.