Boys Stater returns as mentor

What Buckeye Boys State did for Jesse Thomas and his life, he hopes to, in turn, do the same for the
young men who have followed into the program.
His high school wrestling coach saw the potential which is now being fulfilled.
Each summer for the last seven years, Thomas has volunteered his time as a counselor at Boys State. This
year, he has returned and works with the staff of The Hetuck, the Boys State newspaper which publishes
daily throughout the week. He served in a similar capacity for his first two years, followed by four
years as a city counselor.
The joy of working with the young men can be seen on his face as he talks about what the mock-government
program meant for him.
"I love interacting with the delegates," Thomas says of his work. "My main goal is to
motivate them to do their best."
As an Elmwood student, Thomas served as a delegate in 2002 with a role as director of law for Leonard
City.
"I loved it," he recalls. "I remember how I felt as a delegate and want to bring that back
to the program."
A 2003 graduate of Elmwood High School, he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2008.
Thomas currently lives in Cygnet, and lists Bowling Green and rural Fostoria as former addresses. His
mother and stepfather, brother and grandparents, all continue to live in the area.
"I think his best quality is, he’s here for the program," said fellow counselor, Cory Dickman
of Clyde. He has worked on the counseling staff with Thomas for five years.
"He’s here to give his all. He’s very dedicated," described Dickman. "He loves what the
program stands for."
The counselor validated Thomas’ comments regarding his desire to replicate his BBS experience to the
younger delegates attending each year.
Not just Boys State, but his strong commitment in helping to mold the youth into leaders of tomorrow
reaches far beyond Buckeye Boys State.
Thomas is a non-traditional teacher. He is using his Bowling Green State University degree to teach high
school students enrolled in on-line courses through the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. ECOT is based
out of Columbus and while he does not have much face-to-face contact with his more than 200 students, he
will frequently assist them over the phone to help preserve the personal contact with his students. His
students are located all across Ohio.
He teaches a freshman-level class on world studies.
"It blends culture, history and geography including government – combining all of that into one
class."
Thomas calls Elmwood’s wrestling coach Dave Lee "a mentor." He was Thomas’ coach throughout his
four years on the varsity wrestling team.
"He was crazy enough to stick it out all four years," Lee said. "He was a very hard
worker."
In fact , he won his weight class his senior year in the Suburban Lakes League and advanced to the
district tournament two years, earning the benchmark of more than 100 wins in his high school career.

After graduation, Thomas stayed connected to Lee and the wrestling program and now serves as the middle
school team coach.
"He works well with the young men," Lee said adding that he also has great skills working with
the parents, community and the teaching staff.
"Jesse is a fun guy to be around and gets along with every group of people, young and old," Lee
said calling him a "jack of all trades."
When not mentoring young men, he enjoys his time with his girl friend and other friends, including Lee’s
oldest son.
"I like doing odds and ends, grilling out and just being with family and friends."
Over the years, Thomas has broadened his knowledge and experiences including spending one semester of his
college education taking classes in England and touring Europe. Through a BGSU program, he did his
student teaching in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"I love learning about other cultures."
Thomas also loves what he calls the "walking history" which is embodied by the members of the
American Legion who serve at BBS.
"The Legion staff is fantastic. They are a large part of why I come back each year," he said
noting their ability to share their experiences.
He also enjoys and respects the other counselors calling the group a "brotherhood."
Thomas says of the goal, "We like to take boys and point them to be men."
That very reason is "why I became a counselor and a teacher."
Lee summarized his view of Thomas reflecting, "I knew he was going to be an asset to society, and
now he is proving it."