It has been several years but Newcomerstown and the Newcomerstown Exempted Village School District was represented at the American Legion Buckeye Boys State at Bowling Green University this past May.

Braden Russell, a senior at Newcomerstown High School and the son of David and Janette Russell, took part in the eight-day hands-on experience. He shared his experiences with the group of local American Legion Post 431 officers last Monday.

"I learned a lot," he said. "I learned a lot of life skills, both for high school and the future."

At Boys State, young men learn about city, county, and state government through a non-partisan objective education approach. The young men also form friendships which will last a lifetime. The majority of Buckeye Boys State attendees focus on the democratic form of government, the organization of political parties, and the relationship of one to the other in shaping Ohio government.

Instead of focusing on the legislative branch of government, Russell focused his time on being part of the State Highway Patrol -- a career path that he might take.

He said there were 20 selected for the patrol program out of 75 boys.

"It was hard to make it," he said.

They had to test their physical strength and endurance to even be considered. He said they walked across the university campus then had to perform a number of push-ups and sit-ups then run a 1-1//2 mile.

Overall, Russell said it was a lot of fun.

And that was a launching pad for more activities. Russell played over 40 games on the Coshocton Cherokee's American Legion baseball team. From that, he was offered to try-out for the Under Armor//Baseball Factory field day at Dublin High School this past Sunday. During that try-out, he was selected one of the top seven out of hundreds of boys to play on the traveling tournament team. This competes in all regions of the country, including Florida, California and Arizona.

"It was a great experience," Russell said and credits the knowledge he gained from Buckeye Boys State to help in his future endeavors.