Will Schellman Maneuvered His Way to Number One at Missouri Boys State


Senior Will Schellman walks with a fellow student to the second drafting legislation at Missouri Boys State. Missouri Boys State is sponsored by the American Legion. There is also a separate program for girls sponsored by the American Legion Auxillary. (Photo submitted)

By Connor Peper, North Star Reporter

“Larry Eugene,” announced Matt Dameron, the director of Missouri Boys State. The 1000 citizens of Missouri Boys State broke into thunderous applause. This was democracy in action. The next Missouri Boys State governor, as voted by the people, had arrived. However, for senior Will Schellman, his applause was a celebration of himself and all the hard work he’d put in through the week to get to this moment.

“Horrendous acts of corruption,” senior Suhas Andavolu, another Boys State participant, said. “I guess you could say Will was the Dick Cheney of Missouri Boys State.”

The program was created in 1938 by the American Legion as a pro-democracy alternative of youth indoctrination programs that Nazi Germany was engaged in. Missouri Boys State is a week-long program where high school juniors build a functioning government from the city, county and state level.

“Boys State paints a positive picture of democracy, if you’re a citizen,” Schellman said. “It paints a realistic picture if you’re within the government and you’re in the political realm. I think it all comes down to perspective.”

Schellman’s perspective was through the eyes of the governor’s chief of staff, an administrative role with responsibilities including making sure the governor’s political agenda is efficiently and effectively carried out, and that agenda is communicated to the General Assembly, the legislative body of Missouri and Boys State.

“I tried to be the governor’s right hand man; regardless of my thoughts or my personal opinions on what the government was doing,” Schellman said. “My views were what the governor wanted or didn’t want. My entire job was to serve at his pleasure.”

Schellman would abandon this view when the office he served came under attack: the governorship, a high office deserving of respect. When the two major parties of Boys State, the Federalists and Nationalists, nominated weak candidates, powerful figures began to move.

“A lot of mayors who actually wanted a strong central leader,” Andavolu said. “So what the mayors did, along with some of the members in some of the governor’s cabinet, they chose a different write-in candidate to be the governor.”

The real mastermind of the dubbed “Mayor’s Plot” was Schellman, who called the meeting of all the mayors. Schellman felt that the candidates were chosen for their nicknames: Ethan “Dilley Dilley” Stone (F) and “Big Tuff” (Tuff Harris) (N), and they wouldn’t uphold the dignity of the office.

“We were maintaining the integrity of the governor’s office, and maintaining the democratic Republic that is Missouri Boys State,” Schellman said.

To accomplish this, the mayors sought the help of Nationalist attorney-general nominee, Andavolu. He was asked to promote and publicize the chosen candidate of Larry Eugene at the expense of his own chances of winning.

“Right before I was going to give my speech, Will Schellman and a group of mayors came up to me and convinced me to endorse the candidate, their candidate,” Andavolu said. “I agreed to join the mayors’ plot, because like the mayors, I too was dissatisfied with the nominees. I thought they were very incompetent.”

While Andavolu would go on to lose his election, Eugene would live to win his. As Missouri Boys State gathered at the University of Central Missouri basketball gym, Eugene would be announced the winner. Schellman’s hard work in tearing down the two major candidates and building up his own had paid off, not in small part contributed to a nickname of Eugene’s own: “Living like Larry.” While “Governor Eugene” had every right to sack his cabinet and appoint a new one, Schellman met with Eugene in advance to ensure that didn’t happen.

“I took on a bigger role with Larry because he didn’t know what he was doing compared to Albert [the previous governor], as he’d only been governor for like a day,” Schellman said.  “So, I made even more larger decisions and got more bills passed.”

A governor in name only. By the end of the week, the person calling the shots was Schellman. The King of Boys State.

“I was making all of the important decisions,” said Schellman. “I wouldn’t say there was a shadow government, but I would say there’s more power than should fall into the Executive branch.”