News Archive

Eventful 2011 Session Closes With Graduation

Senator Robert Menendez delivers keynote address, BN Senators elected

2011 Lt. Governor Jonathan Stanhope, Director David Bagatelle and ALJBS Governor Julien Blaney

The 66th session of American Legion Jersey Boys State closed Friday after featuring dozens of speakers, the election of a new Boys State Governor and Boys Nation Senators, and a Family Day picnic.

After two days of campaigning, the Nationalist party reclaimed the Governorship. Governor Julien Blaney [Adams City #2] of Montclair (Essex County), Post #251 and Lieutenant Governor Jonathan Stanhope [Buchanan City #14] of Stewartsville (Warren County), Post #456 were announced Thursday afternoon following a tight race. Thursday ended with a celebration in each city where awards were given and the lessons learned were shared among each group of delegates.

The last day of the 66th session was perhaps the busiest. After an early breakfast, each of the four Boys Nation Senator candidates delivered a speech at the last general assembly before fielding questions from the press panel and the floor. After the debate, the delegates returned to their city to finish packing before the Family Day picnic.

The annual Family Day picnic, sponsored by the New Jersey Boys State Foundation, began in 2003 to allow the delegates and their families to gather together with the city counselors around the Rider campus mall and enjoy food and entertainment. The Jersey Boys State Band entertained the crowd with their renditions of patriotic and popular songs. Family Day also features the final athletic event of the week, the ALJBS Championship Race, and a small demonstration by the NJ State Police. Just before graduation, a flag retreat ceremony was held on the campus mall.

Prior to the ceremony, Macarthur County (Harrison and Van Buren cities) received the Harold and Lillian Eaton Award for Outstanding County, led by Senior City Counselors Rob del Prete and Joe Gould, and Mayors Sampson Ho [Vanburen City #7] of Watchung (Somerset County), Post #293 and Michael Kelly [Harrison City #8] of Andover (Sussex County), Post #278. The Walter and Evelyn Howell Award for Outstanding City went to Taylor City #11, led by Mayor Jesse Yu [Taylor City #11] of West Windsor (Mercer County), Post #93. These cities were honored with special guidons prior to graduation and commended for their hard work by Director David Bagatelle as the graduation ceremonies opened.

Speeches followed from the American Legion NJ Department Commander Bob Looby and the keynote speaker, US Senator and former Boys State delegate Robert Menendez. Senator Menendez addressed the approximate 3,500 people in attendance and then reported the results of the morning's election for Boys Nation Senator: Eric Loverro [Tyler City #9] of Sparta (Sussex County), Post #491 and Luis Zamora [Johnson City #16] of Washington (Warren County), Post #528 will be headed to Washington D.C. as representatives of NJ July 20-27, 2011. Jaipartap Ranu [Fillmore City #12] of Robbinsville (Mercer County), Post #530 and Brian Najjar [Taylor City #11] of Pompton Plains (Morris County), Post #450 were named alternates. During the remainder of the ceremony, the Gordon A. Vreeland Award, given to the outstanding delegate, was presented to Michael Shay [Buchanan City #14] of Cinnaminson (Burlington County), Post #156. Jimmy LaFaso [Tyler City #9] of Rutherford (Bergen County), Post #109 was awarded the Todd Eaton Award and scholarship. 2006 ALJBS Governor Michael Gaus, 2000 ALJBS Governor Tarence Smith adn 2010 ALJBS Governor Anthony Covington presented the Smith-LiCausi award to 2011 Governor Julien Blaney of Montclair, Post #251 and Lieutenant Governor Jonathan Stanhope of Stewartsville, Post #456. Senior City Counselor and Retreat Ceremony coordinator Chuck Smith, the venerable Senior City Counselor celebrating his 23rd year on staff, received the Harry V. Groome Award for Outstanding Staff member of the Year. Upon the conclusion of the Graduation ceremony in the Alumni Gym, the 874 delegates left campus with pins, diplomas, and lessons that they will remember for a lifetime.

For those interested in returning to ALJBS as a member of the staff and were unable to complete the application during the week, click here to apply.

originally posted June 25, 2011