This summer, Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy current senior Billy Mendoza got to see, first-hand, the inner workings of the Arkansas court of judicial appeals when he attended Arkansas Boys State.

“I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to apply. It opened my eyes educationally and politically. It can help shape people into better versions of themselves,” says Mendoza.

The immersive program is an American Legion initiative focused on civics education for high school juniors. Arkansas Boys State has been attended by many influential leaders such as Neil Armstrong, President Bill Clinton, Michael Jordan, Mike Huckabee and Harry Reid. Knowing the positive effect the program has had on her students in the past, Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy’s college and career counselor Lacy Little worked with Billy through the process.

“I made sure to get in contact with our local American Legion and the Arkansas Boys State representatives. Our school helped him attend, and veterans from the American Legion recommended Billy through his application and nomination process,” says Little.

The school nominated Billy Mendoza because he fit the description of exhibiting outstanding qualities of leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty, and service to their school and community.

“Billy is one of those students, that when you need something, is the first to volunteer. Last year I was having trouble with the sound system for kindergarten graduation and he gladly stepped in and helped. His teachers agree that Billy has the strength of character that Arkansas Boys State asks the nominees to possess. He turns his work in on time, participates in class, shows kindness to other students, and is strong academically,” says Little.

Billy accepted the invitation because he thought it would be a good opportunity to build his resume and help him think about life after high school.

“After that week, I realized I am not as prepared for the next few years of my life as I thought I was. I need to look more into the different roles of the government and how they work to have a better sense of how our country works,” admits Mendoza.

In addition to making friends, who he still stays in contact with, the program helped him appreciate the education he is receiving at Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy.

“Overall, it made me really appreciate what Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy has been doing because it has been giving me the opportunity to learn more about these very important things that affect people’s everyday lives in terms of the government and economy,” explains Mendoza.

The week at Arkansas Boys State impressed upon Billy the importance of hearing from multiple political perspectives and looking at issues from different angles. After high school, Billy plans to study politics and history at the University of Arkansas.

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