Ocean Springs High School senior Clayton “Mosie” Kirby spent the last week of July at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C., learning how the United States Senate works. He and 97 other boys from across the country represented their states in a mock Senate, functioning like an actual governing body.
Boys Nation attendees arrived at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, on July 21, and for the next week their days were full, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending most days at 11 p.m. or midnight, practicing their roles as senators.
“You’ve got the top guys from each state just dogging it out, passing bills — a lot of fun,” Kirby said. “One of the things I got out of it is security in my government.
“You don’t realize how passionate they are until you go meet them,” Kirby said of meeting some of the United States senators. “It instills Americanism. I am so passionate about this country, and not just my country, my state. Your state and local governments are so important. I definitely realized the importance of local government and the security we have with the federal government.”
Kirby was selected by his peers to attend Boys Nation when he attended Boys State earlier in the summer. He said that both experiences were rewarding and both provided him opportunities to interact with talented seniors and future leaders.
“Clayton ‘Mosie’ Kirby is the whole person,” said Steve Guyton, public relations representative for Boys State. “He talks to everybody. He has political skills, athletic skills and he has passion. He stands for the right things. He’s one of our best representatives ever.”
“I was just cool with everybody,” said Kirby of being selected by his Boys State peers to represent them at Boys Nation. “My ability to communicate with everybody, and not just be clear but friendly. I show interest in other people. I also lead. Everybody seemed to like me. I guess they saw something in me.”
Kirby’s former math teacher, Sharlee Cook, also sees something special in him.
“Mosie is a young man who has become defined by his ability to persevere and grow through challenging circumstances,” Cook said. “Over the past two years he has grown into a good academic role model, as well as a church and community leader. I have no doubt that he will continue to develop his leadership and service in the future.”
Kirby said that the experience has inspired his “mindset.” He has applied to the Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi. If selected, he is considering studying engineering or accounting.
“Basically, what it is, you either major in business, accounting or engineering,” Kirby explained. “They get people from each department of those schools. They only take 50 people. Basically, what they are doing is refining people to be leaders in manufacturing. So, you’ll major in one of those, and you’ll minor in manufacturing, and you’ll also minor in either accounting, business or engineering, whichever one you didn’t pick.
“After I have a career and become financially stable, definitely, I’d like to run for some kind of office,” Kirby said.
He is the son of Eddie and M.J. Kirby, who are both ministers in the Methodist church.
Also representing Mississippi at Boys Nation was Garrett Smith of Starkville. Mina Burton of Hattiesburg and Taylor Thompson of Laurel represented Mississippi at Girls Nation, which was held at the same time in Washington, D.C.
Boys Nation and Girls Nation are programs sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary.