Richard Whitmer and Kade Urban participated as delegates at the 2018 Session of the American Legion Boys State of Kansas Leadership Academy, on June 3 to 8 at Kansas State University in Manhattan. Whitmer and Urban, both of Hays, who will be a seniors at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School in the fall, were two of 400 young men who attended the weeklong government and leadership program. During the program, Whitmer was a member of the city of Aylward, in Bradley County, and held the position of county commissioner. Urban was a member of the city of Kyle in Marshall County and held the position of county commissioner.

Whitmer is the son of Jennifer Whitmer and the late Richard Whitmer and Urban is the son of Brenda and Steve Urban, all of Hays.

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

Throughout the week, the delegates heard from many influential speakers. This year’s keynote address was delivered by Justin Galyon, motivational speaker and head men’s basketball coach at Hesston College. Other speakers included: Ben Honeycutt, founder of Open World Cause, Todd Moore, 1988 delegate of Boys State and project director at UKMC in Kansas City; and Sheele Brim, Kansas State Representative (District 39).

Delegates are sponsored by American Legion posts from all over Kansas, as well as various civic organizations. All delegates demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities in student government, athletics and/or other activities, and were nominated to attend by school counselors and influential people in their lives. Nominations for next year’s session may be submitted online via the Boys State of Kansas website at www.kans

The Boys State program was founded by the American Legion in 1935 in Illinois to promote and teach the ideals of democracy. In the 83 years since, the program has spread to 49 states. The first session of the Boys State of Kansas was held in 1937 at Wichita State University. 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. Each year, two delegates from each state are selected to attend Boys Nation, held annually in Washington, D.C.

The American Legion Boys State of Kansas office can be contacted at or (866) 241-9920.