TWENTYNINE PALMS — Twentynine Palms High School student George Zama said he knew his time as Boys State was a once in a lifetime opportunity so when the time came for students to elect state leaders, he went for and took the job of lieutenant governor.
Zama was a junior when he attended that American Legion sponsored workshop on American government in Sacramento in June.
As lieutenant governor, he helped craft the workshop’s state budget, stepping in to complete the project in a single hour when the governor was called away to address members of the American Legion and Zama became the acting governor.
Getting to the lieutenant governor’s office was no easy task. First he had to collect 100 Filas, from fellow delegates who are issued 100 of the fictional currency units when they arrive, so he could apply for the position.
Then he had to go through two elections, including a primary, in order to secure the job.
Zama, now a senior at Twentynine Palms High School, came to the area last year with his mother, Lt. Annette Wanki, who serves at the Naval Hospital on board the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.
He became interested in Boys State after hearing about it from Giovonna Carroccia, a fellow student who attended the conference the year before and told Zama the conference would help him develop his leadership skills.
Inspired by this and his interaction with Boys State counselor Adam Lunn, Zama applied to take part and was selected after being interviewed by Lunn.
“He seemed like a really top-notch gentleman who would really represent Twentynine Palms well,” Lunn said.
“I truly learned the art of leadership and being able to do what is needed to help my state and my fellow delegates,” he said.
“I think the experience will help me be more prepared to hold my own in college,” he said. “Interact with people I’ve never met before.”
Zama, who plays starting right guard on the Wildcat varsity football team, is planning to attend Cal State San Marcos next year and study biology with an eye toward becoming an anesthesiologist.