Jake Officer, a rising senior at White County High School, was elected as the governor of Tennessee Boys State, on May 27, making him the first representative from Sparta in the program’s history to have earned the prestigious position.
Tennessee Boys State, which is sponsored by the American Legion and held annually at Tennessee Technological University, is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students, with a history that dates back to the 1940s.
“Jake’s accomplishment is great for WCHS,” Greg Wilson, principal at White County High School, said. “He has made history by becoming the first-ever young man from White County to accomplish this prestigious feat. He is a fine young man and represents WCHS well in the classroom and on the sports field. His father is a counselor here at the high school, and I know he and Mrs. Officer are so proud of Jake. The Officer family has been involved in many different aspects of Sparta and White County for many years. Congratulations, Jake, on this wonderful accomplishment.”
Jake Officer said in order to win the title of governor of Boys State, he had to first win his party’s primary election and then move on to the general election, just as if he were running for governor of the state of Tennessee in a “real” election.
“I based my campaign about three topics: unity, communication, and brotherhood,” Jake Officer explained. “My goals were to foster unity and communication between everyone at Boys State so that we could look past the boundaries of parties and grow as one brotherhood of young men striving to do good in the world around us.”
He said the entire Boys State experience was instrumental in helping him understand not just the world of politics but how today’s youth can make a difference in the world around them.
“This experience was an eye-opener for me about how politics works on the state level and helped me better understand how well teens are able to come together and work together for the good of us all as a whole,” he said. “I also learned a lot about how each branch of our government works firsthand from those involved in them.”
Jake Officer said winning the election was a shock as he was thoroughly impressed with his competition’s position and campaign.
“At first, my only thought was complete disbelief,” he said. “I had heard the other candidate’s speech and was blown away by how well and informed he was; I had honestly thought he was going to win by a landslide. When it did finally set in that I did really win, I felt a sense of joy and responsibility to serve the rest of the people at Boys State that I had come to consider as close friends and do all I could for them.”
While the results may have been a shock to Jake Officer, White County director of schools Kurt Dronebarger feels a better candidate could not have been found.
“I can think of no finer representative of White County than Mr. Jake Officer,” Dronebarger said. “He is a scholar, an athlete, and a person of great character. Personally, I know Jake to be dedicated to his education, solid in his convictions, and grounded in his faith. Even at a young age, he displays incredible leadership skills, and it comes as no surprise that he would be selected for such an honor. I know that his parents are beaming with pride, and we in the White County school system are as well. Congratulations, Gov. Officer.”
When asked about a future in politics, given all he has learned and accomplished during the first week of summer break, Jake Officer said he isn’t in a hurry and has other things to accomplish before making that step.
“I have thought about participating in politics when I’m older on the local or possibly the state level, but my main aspiration for the future is to get a degree in cybersecurity from TTU and become a cybersecurity specialist,” he said.
As for the rest of the summer, he is currently at Governor’s School at East Tennessee State University where he will spend a month studying Tennessee Heritage and History. After returning from Governor’s School, Jake Officer will head to Washington D.C. where he will serve as a Tennessee senator for Boys Nation.
While this summer will no doubt be one to remember for Jake Officer, he is keeping himself grounded and staying focused on the fact that he has another year of high school to complete when all of this is over.
“For the next school year, I have big plans for the student council and continuing to pursue higher education,” he said, while his father added that his son’s modesty is hiding the fact that the governorship came with a TTU scholarship attached as well.
“His mother and I are so proud of him not just for this accomplishment but for the way he lives and conducts his life,” Robert “Bobby” Officer said of his son. “We are grateful for his teachers who have educated him, people at church who helped with his spiritual growth, and our family and friends who helped guide him along the way.”