On a beautiful Friday in June, the 70th session of American Legion Jersey Boys State drew to a close with a wide range of activities. Boys Nation Senators were elected and announced, exams and evaluations were completed, graduation certificates and pins were handed out, a helicopter demonstration took place, hamburgers and hot dogs were grilled, a flag ceremony occurred, and awards were presented. It was a packed but exciting end to another great year.
Before the graduation ceremony, the Family Day picnic was held once again on the mall at Rider University. Over 3,500 statesmen, staff, Legionnaires, and their families ate, listened to the Jersey Boys State Band perform hit after hit, cheered the final athletic event of the week (the Jersey Boys State 5k warm-up), watched a special demonstration by the New Jersey State police TEAMS unit, and took part in a final Retreat ceremony. Family Day, now in its 13th year, is an event sponsored by the New Jersey Boys State Foundation and is a unique opportunity for statesmen, their parents, and their friends to meet and interact with the friends they've made during the week-long ALJBS program as well as the volunteer staff of ALJBS.
During Family Day, the Harold and Lillian Eaton Award was given to Eisenhower County, led by Senior City Counselors Jon Prober and Rich Kane and Mayors Scott Salerno [Pierce City #13] of Hasbrouck Heights (Bergen County), Post #106 and Andrew Rubino [Buchanan City #14] of Essex Fells (Essex County), Post #59. The Walter and Evelyn Howell Award for Best City was given to Madison City, led by Senior City Counselor Jay Levine and Mayor Kaleb Noruzi [Madison City #4] of Paramus (Bergen County), Post #207. Director Bagatelle commended the city and county for their hard work throughout the week and awarded each a special guidon to carry in at graduation.
Graduation was highlighted by a keynote speech from U.S. Senator and ALJBS Alumnus Bob Menendez, who stressed the value of the program and admonished the delegates to continue pursuing great things.
During graduation, Raymond Hu [Hayes City #18] of Belle Mead (Somerset County), Post #12 and James Kelly [Taylor City #11] of Franklinville (Gloucester County), Post #252 were announced as the ALJBS representatives to Boys Nation. Nicolas Paredes [Monroe City #5] of Parlin (Middlesex County), Post #211 and Joseph Delmar [Harrison City #8] of Woolwich (Gloucester County), Post #452 were announced as alternates.
The Todd Eaton Award was presented to John DiNofrio [Pierce City #13] of Linwood (Atlantic County), Post #295. The Eaton Award is presented to the delegate who best represents the spirit of the ALJBS program, who has not won the accolades and races that others have but has selflessly given of himself to help others achieve their goals.
The Gordon A. Vreeland Award for best delegate was presented to Michael Avallone [Washington City #1] of Mullica Hill (Gloucester County), Post #452. The Vreeland Award is presented to the delegate who has best exemplified dedication and achievement in the Boys State program.
Dean of Communications James Lynch was awarded the Harry V. Groome Award. The Groome Award is given annually and honors the most outstanding staff member of the all-volunteer staff of Jersey Boys State. Many of the staff volunteer their time in preparation throughout the year during the "off-season" for the weeklong program. James, a 2004 delegate to the ALJBS program from Westmont, has served on staff for 10 years and organized the communications and social media team at ALJBS as well as serving as Secretary of the New Jersey Boys State Foundation.
Be sure to check us out on Facebook. We have loaded many of our pictures within our Photo Albums there, plus our City Photos and more will be loaded on our Picture Page. Our Twitter feed also features some videos taken throughout the week and our Instagram account has all your favorite photos. All Alumni of the program will also receive a complimentary DVD full of photos and videos taken at the session later this summer.
For those interested in returning as a member of our volunteer staff for 2016 and beyond, click here to submit a Junior Assistant counselor application. Candidates will be identified this winter and invited to next year's session June 18-24, 2016.
Also, we invite everyone to come out to the third annual Jersey Boys State 5k Run + Walk presented by JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Saturday, August 22, at 9:00am at Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park (Princeton, NJ). An excellent opportunity for a summer reunion for you and your fellow statesmen; to sign up or learn more, go to njbsf.org/5krace.
Congratulations to all our winners and to all our delegates for completing a successful 2015 ALJBS Session!