LITTLE ROCK -- Eight area students were elected this week to various city, county and state offices during the 82nd annual Arkansas Boys State.
More than 470 students from 187 schools throughout the state are at the University of Central Arkansas to build a mock government structure, including eight different congressional districts each with three senators and 10 representatives.
Students are mock citizens in eight different counties, 16 cities and two political parties during the weeklong session, which ends Friday.
"When the week comes to a close for these students, they will have learned what it means to intentionally and thoughtfully share their stories, lead their peers, and advocate for their communities," said Lloyd Jackson, executive director of Arkansas Boys State.
Delegates are assigned to one of two political party, 16 cities and eight counties. They administer the mock government from the ground up -- running for office, drafting and passing legislation, solving municipal challenges, and engaging constituents.
City and county elections were held Monday.
Garrett Pendergraft of Texarkana, from Arkansas High School, was elected to the Bland City City Council. Gus Buehler of Lewisville, from Arkansas Virtual Academy High School, was elected as a city council member for Diamond City. Luis Maya of Nashville, from Nashville High School, was elected a Conway City council member.
Alan Gutierrez of De Queen, from Horatio High School, was elected Hanner County justice of the peace; Jarrett Hellums of Mineral Springs, from Nashville High School, was elected as a justice of the peace for Womack County; and Ty Marks of Ashdown, from Ashdown High School, was elected Qualls County sheriff.
"Once elected, those officials will be responsible for helping to lead their cities and counties, making decisions that have a real impact on the lives of delegates who they share dorms and mealtimes with. This is just the first step in the transformative leadership journey that students embark on this week," said David Saterfield, director of instruction for Arkansas Boys State.
State legislative elections were held Tuesday.
Hayden Stephens of Lockesburg, from Dierks High School, and Marks were elected as state senators.
Delegates elected as state representatives were KDarius Gulley of Hope, from Hope High School; Pendergraft; and Buehler.
On Wednesday, the students met with Arkansas legislators to learn more about the legislative branch and process. As part of their meeting, they will join their fellow Arkansas Boys State senators and representatives in creating mock legislation that they will debate and vote upon at the state capitol on Friday.
"I'm excited to see what ideas these Arkansas Boys State legislators bring to the House and Senate floors on Friday," said David Saterfield, director of instruction for Arkansas Boys State. "I hope they take it all in when they're at the Capitol. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Arkansas Boys State launched in 1940. Past delegates include former President Bill Clinton; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; former White House Chiefs of Staff Mack McLarty and Jack Watson Jr.; Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman; and Arkansas Chief Justice John Dan Kemp.
For information, visit arboysstate.org.