Mr. Hartunian goes to Washington

"It's something I feel very strongly about, and education has been a focus for me," he said. "People in politics and government are always talking about reforming education. ... I thought, who better to reform it than people who are going through the process right now?"

Hartunian's bill involved levying a tax on college endowments that would go to refunding up to $5,000 of tuition for parents of students within a certain income level. Although it received debate on the floor of the mock senate, it was not one of the pieces of legislation the group eventually passed, which were compiled and distributed to the White House and Congress.

In between debate sessions and other duties, the group saw the nation's capitol. At Arlington Cemetery, they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also visited the capitol's war memorials. Acknowledging the importance of service was a theme of the trip " the American Legion is the country's largest association of veterans.

"I've gained a huge appreciation for not only the American Legion, but also for soldiers who are in our armed forces today," Hartunian said.

While seeing the sights in Washington and getting a close-up view of the legislative process were truly valuable experiences, perhaps the most memorable stop was the boys' trip to the White House, where they were able to tour the grounds and even had a brief meeting with President Barack Obama.

"It was phenomenal. He spoke to us for a few moments. He was funny, he was intelligent, he was everything you'd expect your president to be," Hartunian said.

He even had a chance to ask a question of the president, which he chose to be about his bill for secondary education reform.

Past notable participants of the Boys Nation program include Bill Clinton, Tom Brokaw and Michael Jordan. One often talked about piece of Boys Nation memorabilia is a picture of Clinton with then-president John Kennedy, which is always sure to spark discussion about the future of participants.

For Hartunian, while the program piqued his interest in politics and government, he doesn't think public office is necessarily the path for him.

"The one thing that I learned at Boys Nation is that I'm not a very good politician. ... I had trouble going out and promoting myself," he said. "I don't think that's really in my future, but hopefully I'll be able to go into politics maybe behind the scenes and try and help people."

Hartunian also plays on a travel baseball team and is involved in the Bethlehem Youth Court program.""

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