Thinking About Summer: Everything You Need to Know About AGS and Boys/Girls State


Graphic by Sophia Finkebeiner

Arkansas Govenor’s School- Sophia Finkbeiner 

I would recommend Arkansas Governor’s School to anyone. You may be hesitant to spend a month of your summer on the Arkansas Tech campus in Russellville, like I was, but I did not regret it. It’s important to choose an area of study that you are interested in. The teachers are excited about what they teach, so classes are fun and you’ll get to do things you’ve never done in a traditional classroom, like tracing your ancestry by gathering your cheek cells, getting your DNA sequence, and then analyzing it. There is no homework or grades, so the pressure of school is removed, and you are allowed to enjoy learning simply for the sake of knowledge. You’ll have three classes: Area I is your chosen area of study (mine was natural science) and this is the class you’ll spend the most time in, Area II is philosophy (kind of), and Area III is social development (your class experience is somewhat dependent on your teacher and classmates). Area I is more content based, while Area II and III are mostly based on class discussions. I encountered new, thought-provoking ideas every day in my classes that changed me, like learning about the allegory of the cave, or the spectrum of reality. I feel I have become more conscious and thoughtful as a result of AGS. However, AGS is not all work and no play. Outside of classes, which are only about half of your day, you are granted a lot of freedom. It’s reflective of what you will experience in college; you have a random roommate, you are allowed to be as involved in activities as you want, you can essentially do whatever you want outside of classes. I had the time of my life, even when half of the students were at home with COVID-19. You will meet fun, diverse, intelligent people who you will (hopefully) remain friends with for years to come. Not to mention, it looks great on your academic resume. If you are unsure about going to AGS, feel free to email me at [email protected], and I will be happy to tell you my experiences or answer questions. 


Boys State – Henry Chilcoat 

When I left my driveway on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to head to Arkansas Boys’ State, the same old thoughts most boys my age have when heading to week-long events designed to educate teens about civic duty began rattling through my head. 

“Why am I doing this?”

“This will be really boring.”

“I could be doing a lot better things during my first week on summer break.”

However, I’m happy to report that it was a week well spent. In fact, I’d recommend it to any rising seniors, no matter their interests.

One of the most memorable parts of anyone’s ABS experience is the county system. Before the week begins, you’re organized into a county with about thirty other people your age. You’ll stay with and share many experiences, good and bad, with these people and develop surprisingly strong bonds with them over the week.

If you’re interested in politics, governance, or even just interesting conversation, you’ll love the sessions you will participate in during the day. These group simulations, which span from carrying out local governance to creating and designing corporations, allow you to solve problems that mirror the ones we as a society face today.

By far the best part of my experience was elections. Within the program, there are tons of positions you can run for, spanning from a city council seat to the governor of Arkansas. Competing with others for these positions is really fun and teaches you how to be brave in the face of opposition.

I’m not at all alone in saying that Arkansas Boys’ State was a life changing experience for me. I met dozens of friends that I have remained close with since. I even got the chance to attend Boys’ Nation, a Boys’ State with people from all over the country, in Washington D.C. that same summer, an experience that was just as exciting. My experience opened doors for me, and I don’t think I could ever forget Arkansas Boys’ State.


Girls State

Marin Carlton, a senior, was an Arkansas Girls’ State attendee. She was eager to recommend it to any girl who is interested. 

“It was all about girlhood, and getting to listen to each other and learn new things,” Carlton said. 

Being a part of an open-minded, collaborative group was one of the things Carlton enjoyed most about Girls’ State. The format of Girls’ State is a random assignment to a city, or a group of girls with whom you discuss ideas, disagreements, new laws, and more. 

“Everyone had such different ideas and views, even though we’re all from the same state. It was really nice to make new friends and get our voice out there,” Carlton said. 

Her favorite experience at Girls’ State was Capitol Day, where the girls traveled to the Arkansas Capitol with laws they had proposed, including one regarding whether students should be sent home as punishment for bad behavior. Carlton had no complaints about her experience, but there was one thing she thought could be better in the future. 

“If I could change anything, I would make it to where everyone has a fair shot [of being elected.] Some cities had lots of girls from that same city, and they were more popular, so they had a better chance of getting a leadership position,” Carlton said. 

She says the experience changed her worldview. 

“Everyone is different, with different experiences, and different ideas. It’s really important to listen to what other people have to say, regardless of whether you agree or not.”