Providing leadership opportunities for youth has long been recognized as an effective way to help develop character, build solid communications skills, and encourage personal growth. That’s been the Boys Town approach for more than 100 years. In fact, the Village of Boys Town has its own government system that was originated by Father Edward J. Flanagan in 1926. This successful system establishes a sense of community by offering the citizens of the student body with opportunities to lead.
In May, seventeen-year-old Colby Johnson of Baltimore, MD, was elected the 122nd Mayor of the Village of Boys Town. Johnson’s journey to leadership has been rewarding in more ways than one, but his favorite aspect of his new role is feeling as though his actions are important and impactful.
Johnson first arrived at Boys Town on May 21, 2020. He wasted no time before becoming involved in various activities, including football, track, and wrestling. As the captain of the varsity Boys Town football team, Johnson takes his position seriously and credits the sports program for teaching him about leadership and teamwork.
At first, Johnson was not considering a run for Mayor. It was only after those around Johnson repeatedly told him that he’d be a good leader by setting a great example for others and being a strong advocate for positive change, that he was persuaded. “So, I shot my shot,” Johnson said.
With a campaign theme centered on “happiness for everyone throughout the campus,” Johnson got to work. When he found out he had won the election, he was shocked. “I remember hearing the crowd cheering, and I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It has all been a great experience.”
As for his duties as Mayor, Johnson said his most important focus is being an advocate for others. He recently implemented his plan of placing a suggestion box at each building on campus so that people can submit their thoughts and ideas to him.
Since arriving at Boys Town, Johnson said he’s learned many lessons that have helped him enter in his new role as Mayor. “I’ve learned that you won’t always get a ‘yes’ answer to everything,” he said. “The things I like to advocate for may be a ‘no’ sometimes, and I have to be able to handle that in a professional way, not get frustrated, and move on to something else.”
Upon graduating in May 2023, Johnson plans to move closer to home and hopes to attend Delaware State University, where he will study Sport Management with a goal of working in the industry as a coach or trainer.
This summer, Johnson spent much of his time participating in football camp, lifting weights, and honing his skills. He also used his time to reflect on ways to be the very best leader he can be. “A lot of my coaches say that I do the right thing all the time but need to be more vocal,” Johnson said. “So, that’s what I’m going to do as Mayor. I’m going to be a more vocal leader and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard.”
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