Fourteen Pacific High School juniors, including four boys and 10 girls, took part in the annual Boys State and Girls State youth program — the largest number from Pacific in recent memory.

The students and their sponsors were honored in a special recognition ceremony at the Sept. 18 Meramec Valley School Board meeting.

Michelle Bruns, American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) representative, credited the large number of girls sent this year to the generosity of the Pacific Lions Club, Pacific Kiwanis, St. Bridget Men’s Club and St. Louis Service Women’s Post 404, which joined the Pacific ALA to sponsor the girls.

“This is an American Legion Auxiliary program and we certainly want to be able to give these girls the opportunity to have this experience,” Bruns said. “We’re grateful to the other organizations for helping to sponsor the girls.”

During an eight-day event on the campus of the University of Central Missouri, students create a fully functioning mock government, complete with elected officials, caucuses, legislative sessions, proposed laws and debates.

The American Legion is the official sponsor of Boys State, which sent four students this year.

Participants in each program spend a week learning the ins and outs of state legislature, holding political conventions, and creating a variety of local, county and stage governments.

For the students, who were recognized at the school board meeting, the weeklong adventure was an opportunity to make new friends and learn about how government works.

Boys State was developed in 1934 to promote democracy. Girls State was added in 1940.