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Boys, Girls State programs cancelled for 2020

The American Legion Boys and Girls State programs have been cancelled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to 3rd District of Virginia Commander Rick Ward of American Legion Post 75 in Gloucester.

In announcing the cancellations, Ward included a message from Virginia Boys State dated March 28 and a message from 2020 Virginia Girls State Director Margaret Dellinger dated March 25.

“We are saddened that we have had to make the decision to cancel this year’s 78th session of Virginia Boys State due to the continued concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. For the health and well-being of the participants and staff, as well as the Radford University employees who assist our program, we felt this was the right call to make with so much uncertainty still ahead.

“We do not take this unprecedented decision lightly, as it has only been done once before in program history—during the war years of 1942-1945. The Boys State of Virginia leadership team is working on possible virtual options to engage those students that were hoping to attend this year, and the American Legion of Virginia family will be updated should this initiative move forward,” stated the letter from Virginia Boys State.

In her message, Dellinger said, “We are disappointed that we must cancel this program which has taken place in Virginia since 1947, but the health and safety of participants and our volunteers is our utmost concern.” Dellinger did not mention a virtual option.

Girls State was scheduled to be held June 21-27 at Longwood University. Boys State was slated for the same dates at Radford University. Both programs serve students who have completed their junior years in high school. American Legion Post 75 and its Auxiliary Unit sponsor Gloucester High School students who attended the programs.

Ward said the Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Program, conducted by the Virginia American Legion and Virginia State Police, is under study and awaiting a decision by the VSP. The weeklong law enforcement program is scheduled for June 14-19 at the Virginia State Police Academy.