The following article was published in our Fall 2023 Communique. Read the Communique here!
When you walk around the halls of St. Joes, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a student who doesn’t
know the name “James Murano.” James is a Student Ambassador, Co-Captain of the Debate Team, President of Model Congress, Vice President of the National Honor Society, and winner of 8 academic awards during last May’s underclassmen awards ceremony. On top of that, James also plays on the Varsity Golf Team. With his ambition to succeed, dedication to our school community, and ability to command a room, it was no surprise that James was selected to participate as one of one hundred Connecticut young men in the American Legion Boys State Program.
American Legion Boys State is among the most selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. nominated by their school’s College Counseling Office and submit a copy of their resumé to demonstrate an interest in government. James was chosen to participate in the 6-day, hands-on experience hosted by the University of New Haven. From the first day, the boys were tasked with the creation and “operation” of city, county, and state governments. By day two, with their political parties solidified, they were expected to run for office.
“I was going to run for comptroller, at first,” James remarked. “I love throwing out numbers and everyone knew me as the numbers guy.” But at the last minute, James was unexpectedly nominated by his peers for Lieutenant Governor. After completely ad-libbing his speech, he won.
Little did he know that while this experience was already impacting his life, there was an even greater surprise coming. Throughout the week, all of the young men were being observed and judged on their participation and political performances by moderators. The organizers of the Boys Legion were specifically looking for just two students who stood out from the rest – two students who would go beyond Boys State and be invited to join Boys Nation. James was one of the two chosen.
“When I heard my name announced, I was in shock,” James said. “My parents couldn’t believe it either. We didn’t even know this was a possibility.” While it was an honor and a privilege to be invited, it was also a daunting task to be a participant. James was given just one day to draft an actual congressional bill for Boys Nation. Three weeks later, he was off to Washington, D.C. to participate in the event. Acting as a Connecticut Senator, James and the other participants held caucus sessions, organized into committees, and then conducted hearings on the very bills they had submitted three weeks prior.
“My bill was focused on revoking 501c3 status for private colleges and universities with endowments of $750 million or more that overcharge tuition,” James said. “As I mentioned, I like playing with numbers. With my bill, we could lower college tuition – which has outpaced inflation by 170% - and help with student loan issues in the future.”
“Debating the bills took a lot of time,” he continued, “of the 100 bills we all submitted, we only made it through about 20 of them.”
But the Boys Nation event wasn’t only politics and hardwork. James and his fellow participants were given a private tour of the Capital by Dusty Johnson – U.S. Representative for South Dakota – and were allowed to sit on the house floor. “It was pretty awesome. Most people will only ever see it on television,” said James.
In addition, they were granted passes by Senator Blumenthal to watch the Senate in action and fortunate enough to speak with Blumenthal’s staff. They were even able to meet General Mark Milley, the highest-ranked military official in the country. General Milley spent 45 minutes speaking to the young men and another half an hour taking photos with them.
“One of the greatest pieces of the entire experience,” James said, “was not just the special inside access, but it was being able to meet so many students from all over the country. Right across from my hotel room were kids from Alaska and California. It was incredible to hear what concerns their state is facing right now and how Connecticut is similar and different. It really makes you grow an appreciation for your home state.”
This year, as a senior, James wants to make it his mission to try and get more SJ students to apply to both American Legion Boys and Girls. “Before my College Counselors told me about this opportunity, I didn’t even know it existed. There are so many more opportunities like this one that are out there, and I want to spread the word and make sure everyone at St. Joes knows how they can become involved.”