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Mr. Waddell goes to Washington

MHS student to represent state at Boys Nation

Staff writer

If it’s considered an honor to be selected to attend Boys State, it must be an even greater honor to be selected to attend Boys Nation.

Hap Waddell, who will be a senior this fall at Marion High School, was one of two delegates from the 2018 session of Boys State to be elected by peers to represent Kansas as senators at Boys Nation this summer.

Being at Boys State and running for Boys Nation is something Waddell will never forget.

He was one of 10 finalists for Boys Nation and had to give a three-minute speech to the whole assembly last week at Kansas State University.

“I never believed I could stand up in front of 400 people and speak my mind,” he said. “My speech made me shine. I think I convinced them that I would be a good representative for Kansas on the national level.”

He also had to answer an impromptu question on trade in one minute 30 seconds. He had done a lot of research on current national issues, but trade wasn’t one of them.

“Mine wasn’t the best response, but it wasn’t the worst,” he said.

Waiting for the results was the most stressful part.

“I was on edge for 17 hours,” he said. “When the time came, my name was the last to be called. I was sitting with my county of more than 40 guys, and everybody was excited and grabbed my arms.

“We were seated at the top of the auditorium, so I had to walk all the way down to the stage. Everybody was clapping and saying my name — ‘Hap! Hap!’ It was an exhilarating experience.”

Name recognition helped him win the election, he said. He was master of ceremonies for a talent show one night, in which he welcomed performers and thanked them as they left the stage.

“I got to know a lot of people,” he said.

He was elected majority whip for the Federalist Party in a mock House of Representatives. His job was to moderate between opposing sides and make sure everyone’s voice was heard.

Many issues were contentious, and everyone stated their views. Delegates had a week to get it done.

The first two pieces of legislation that made it through the legislature were legalization of marijuana and a gun control bill, Waddell said.

He helped one member work on an opioid bill. He also supported clean energy bills.

“It lighted a fire under me and motivated me,” he said. “You can learn about it in a textbook, but Boys State helped me understand how it works. It was a growing experience, for sure. I considered myself a left-wing moderate, but I think I am more in the middle.”

He will leave July 20 for Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, where he will join representatives from 48 other Boys States in a mock Senate. He will be researching and writing legislation before the trip.

Mark McAllister of Americus will be the other Kansas delegate.

“It’s all about leadership,” Waddell said. “I would highly recommend it for anybody. You get out what you put into it.”

He was the only one from Marion to attend. His trip to Boys State was sponsored by Leland Heidebrecht of the American Legion Post in Marion.

Aaron Waddell of Peabody is Waddell’s father, and Sarah Tolessasukesse of Marion is his mother.

Last modified June 13, 2018

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