Director of Feelings
The San Marcos Junior State of America chapter packed up their suitcases and traveled down to Los Angeles on April 13 for Spring State, an overnight debate conference organized mainly by students.
The Junior State of America is a nationwide, student-run, non-partisan youth organization. The purpose of JSA is to help high school students acquire leadership skills and the knowledge necessary to be effective debaters and civic participants. Students throughout the country attend chapter meetings on a school level and travel to three main overnight conventions throughout the year in their state as well as weekend one-day conferences. There, students engage in activism initiatives and thoughtful debate conversations for the purpose of fighting against apathy in current society. JSA is also student-run, meaning that the organization is comprised of numerous departments containing cabinet members, each meant to oversee one section of the state, from organizing conventions to coordinating chapters.
“JSA is truly special because it empowers students to take stances on topics when we as teens are frequently told that our opinions hold no true power,” said senior Bailey Steelman. “Spring State specifically allows students to complete the entire process of proposing, debating, and voting on a bill. This environment fosters a mentality geared toward positive changes, conversations, and expression.”
Earlier last year in November, the San Marcos Junior State of America traveled to Los Angeles for Fall State, the first overnight convention of the year. Arriving early Saturday morning, students attended multiple one-hour blocks featuring a debate resolution, debating back and forth and later voting pro or con. The second convention of the year, Winter Congress, differs in this sense wherein rather than debating a resolution, students engage within a mock House of Representatives and Senate, voting and discussing bills submitted by chapters. Students there also engage in parties as a reflection of American democracy, but the main purpose serves as forming a professional civil discourse. Spring State copies the format of Fall State, with the addition of campaigning for next year’s elected officials.
“The JSA and Spring State community is not united under the same political beliefs, but under the single belief that educating students and allowing them to develop their own concepts of how our government should influence day to day life will create a more unified, diverse, and forward-thinking society,” said sophomore Harrison Fell. “One thing I’ve noticed is that regardless of what your political affiliation may be, nonpartisanship is highly emphasized, and therefore so is making social compromise.”
In addition to attending overnight debate conferences, the Junior State of America also works on a chapter level engaging in activism initiatives. Weekly meetings engage in a plethora of debate and Thought Talk topics, meant to generate a conversation regardless of partisan pressures. The San Marcos JSA meets every Tuesday at lunch in F-6, and students are always happy to welcome new members.