JC Wilkin a party chair at Boys State

By definition, American Legion Boys State is designed to give instruction on how local and state government works, but participants at Eastern Illinois University couldn’t help poking a bit of fun at the political landscape when they gathered earlier this summer.

As a matter of fact, Monticello High School senior JC Wilkin of Cisco won a Boys’ State party mythical Federalist chairman post with a unique platform.

“I said that as a party we were going to have so much pizza we will build a wall out of the pizza boxes and we will keep the (opposing) Nationalists out,” said Wilkin, referring not so vaguely to the infamous border wall touted by current U.S. President Donald Trump.

The pizza promise was enough for the hundreds of high schoolers to vote him in.

As chairman of the Federalist party for the mock government created each year at Boys’ State, Wilkin ran elections for his party as they elected governors and other officers, gave speeches and introduced candidates at the convention. Proceedings were streamed live.

His ascent also took the familiar path of Abraham Lincoln, who lost his share of elections before being twice elected President of the United States.

“I first ran for coroner. I didn’t get it,” added Wilkin.

He also took part in the Boys State band, but points out it wasn’t all fun and games. There were classes each morning that opened his eyes on how governments operate.

“I’m an advanced AP History student, and even with that background there was a lot of stuff I learned,” said Wilkin, the son of Brian and Jody Wilkin of Cisco.

As the Federalist Party chair, Wilkin was also a guest at the Illinois State Legion Convention on July 24, where he was one of the guest speakers.

The MHS student who is active in cross country, band, thespians and jazz band had mild political aspirations prior to his Boys State experience, but saw them strengthen as a result of his success at the American Legion-sponsored event.

“I’m thinking mostly about music as a major at college, but I’m also thinking of political science. And I’m also thinking about the Air Force,” said Wilkin.

His Boys State sponsor was Craig Reed Post 1181 of the American Legion. Sixty years ago JC’s grandfather Dick Wilkin also attended Boys’ State, which was founded in 1935. The training centers around the structure of city, township, county and state governments. Activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.

Legion posts select those who have finished their junior year in high school to participate.

The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program called Girls’ State.

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