Two close friends from Charleston County School of the Arts attended Palmetto Boys and Girls State recently, elected by different colleges for the honor.
Jada Orr won the election at Palmetto Girls State at Presbyterian College, while Caleb Smith was elected as State Superintendent at Palmetto Boys State at Anderson University.
“I was so excited and so proud of [Caleb],” Orr said. “We shared with each other what the election process was like, how everything went with our speeches, and we were both just humbled by the process of it all.”
"It was mind-boggling, but only because we made history,” Smith said. “I don't believe that anyone from the same school has held the same [state] office as their counterpart has.”
Boys and Girls State is a weeklong leadership program designed to educate excellent senior high school students about state and local government. As delegates, they experience governmental procedure through simulated political campaigns and elections. Delegates are chosen based on their leadership skills and involvement in their communities.
“It turned out to be something right up my alley,” Smith said. “I appreciated the emphasis of the brotherhood the most at Boys State. No matter how different you were from the [guy] standing next to you, you both had two things in common: your white Palmetto Boys State shirt and the brotherhood you would look back on after the program.
"I was also impressed with myself, seeing where my personal drive ended up, at the end of the program. I stayed up until 3:47 a.m. writing a speech for my campaign. It doesn't get any more authentic than that. I would have never done something that intense if it wasn't for Boys State.”
Orr said the experience has encouraged her to think about her fellow South Carolina residents.
“Even though I don't have any career interests in politics, I still feel obligated to understand the structure of our nation's government and its values,” Orr said. “The opportunity to connect with so many young women from all over the state taught me about places and things in South Carolina I had no knowledge of beforehand. I realized that there were more young women like me from South Carolina than I thought.”
To learn more about Palmetto Boys or Girls State, visit http://palmettoboysstate.com/about-palmetto-boys-state/how-to-apply/ or https://palmettogirlsstate.net/faq/#q3.