Friday, April 19, 2024

Marcus senior represents Texas at American Legion Boys Nation in D.C.

Thanks to the nomination of one of his Marcus High School teachers, Owen Oppenheimer experienced something few Texas teenagers ever do.

The 17-year-old senior was among 98 students representing their states at the American Legion Boys Nation the last week of July in Washington, D.C. It capped a busy summer that included Texas Boys State and a three-week foreign exchange program in Amsterdam.

“Boys Nation is such a huge honor to go to,” he said. “Your expenses are paid for. It’s something the Legion wants for you as a person.”

He was recommended to the government-focused competition by Kaitlyn Wilson, chair of the Marcus social studies department and AP U.S. History teacher. After making it through the teacher and American Legion Post 71 interviews, he earned the CoServ Award/Scholarship.

In Austin, participants were randomly placed in the Nationalist or Federalist “parties” with Oppenheimer on the Federalist side. Each created a platform of topics from scratch and elected candidates for “governor,” “lieutenant governor” and “attorney general.” They also selected committee chairs with Oppenheimer elected to lead his party’s platform group. That meant presenting the platform to 400+ people which he accomplished despite having no public speaking experience.

Oppenheimer also ran for governor and when he lost by less than 1% he thought he was done. But he was surprised to learn he would join Cole Sloan of College Station as the two Texans for Boys Nation.

Attendees there were called “senators” who serve on committees and write legislative bills. Oppenheimer chaired the committee focused on transportation, science and education. He lost the national “president’s” election by one vote.

He met peers from states he’d never visited and stopped by governmental and educational buildings including the Senate where he met with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and the staff of Senator John Cornyn.

“If you make it to Boys Nation you are incredibly ambitious,” he said. “Everyone who goes to Boys Nation is going to be something. It taught me a lot about the government. I’m enthusiastic to vote in every election I can.”

Oppenheimer hopes to study international relations in the Washington, D.C., area with the goal of becoming a Department of State Foreign Service Officer. Until then, he’s participating in various school, civic, voting advocacy and political groups including as an intern for the Denton County Democratic Party.

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