By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Boys State - Program Shapes Young Leaders Of Tomorrow
Jonathen Beliera, a Riverbank High School junior, will be representing the high school at The American Legion California Boys State 76th Session from June 22 through 29 at California State University Sacramento. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Riverbank High School junior Jonathen Beliera will be heading to Sacramento in June for The American Legion California Boys State 76th session at California State University. Beliera was nominated by his teachers to participate in the Boys State program.

“The way we chose our student was I asked teachers to nominate students with leadership potential who would represent our school well. There were five students who were nominated a couple of times,” said RHS Counselor Norma Ramirez.

The five Riverbank High School juniors had to interview with Steven Grenbeaux, board member for Modesto City Schools, and Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien. The only question the students knew they were going to be asked was about local and state government delegates like city councilmembers, congressmen, and senators. Not all the questions were simply answered; some had to dig a little deeper for answers to questions such as how you would prevent drug activity in the school, how to promote patriotism, and if you were a principal, what would you change about the school?

In order to promote patriotism in school, Beliera suggested putting the state news, national news, and local news on the televisions that are in every classroom. The news does not need to be playing but maybe a list of headlines like his teacher stated they had back in her day.

“So they (students) would know what’s going on with their city and country,” said Beliera.

The junior’s response to preventing drug activity in school was to do more drug searches with the dogs at random times.

O’Brien and Grenbeaux had a long deliberation and after careful consideration they finally made their decision. According to O’Brien the decision was extremely difficult and all five students were remarkable young men.

“They were all extremely confident, showed poise, and had their strong points,” stated O’Brien.

According to the Boys State website, “The Boys State Program is a nationwide program with a number of excellent organizations educating young men to be the leaders of tomorrow. American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high-school students. At Boys State, participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments. Operated by students elected to various offices, Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs. In most cases, individual expenses are paid by a sponsoring post, a local business or another community-based organization.”

Over the summer, Beliera will be attending the program in Sacramento from June 22 to June 29. He will be staying at CSU Sacramento housed with other high school juniors. Mayor O’Brien is sponsoring Beliera in the program.

Beliera is a cross country and track runner for RHS and has a 4.1 grade point average. He plans to go to a four-year college and aspires to be a meteorologist. He expressed that he is looking forward to this experience and is enthusiastic about the new things he will be learning.