Directory for Alumni Nears Finish
BY JEFF HARRIS:
As the school year winds down to a close, things are still very active in JSA. Preparations for our Summer Schools and Summer Institute programs are at a fever pitch. Newly elected JSA officers are involved in transition meetings with the graduating seniors who held their positions this year. Our efforts to reconnect with JSA alumni have been a huge success and we are turning to preparing the first ever JSA Alumni Directory. (If you still haven’t participated in the project by filling out the simple survey, please do so by May 31 at http://www.jsa.org/alumniupdate.)
Paul Hrabal has done an amazing job with outreach to alumni and we have reconnected with more than 3,500 JSAers from all throughout the years. The JSA Alumni Directory will contain “class notes” that will show the strength and diversity of the JSA Network. Not all JSAers go into politics, but we can claim leaders in a myriad of professions.
As the summer approaches, hundreds of bright, politically aware students are working in their communities to fundraise to help them pay the tuition for the JSA Summer School. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you one more time to support The Junior Statesmen Foundation Scholarship Fund. If you have donated already, Thank you! If you haven’t had the chance to donate, please visit http://www.jsa.org/donate/ — contributions of any size are greatly appreciated.
The importance of our Summer School programs and JSA’s mission in general is underscored by a report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In its most recent report, 75 percent of high school seniors were “unable to demonstrate skills like identifying the effect of United States foreign policy on other nations or naming a power granted to Congress by the Constitution.” (You can read the New York Times article here). Overall the report demonstrated that the lack of civic knowledge our students are getting in schools presents a real crisis for the future of our democracy. (Never mind the fact that Donald Trump had to duck a simple question about the number of representatives there are in the U.S. Congress — and he was considering a presidential campaign!)
You can be confident that your support of JSA students and JSA programs helps to reverse this trend. The students who participate are the leaders of tomorrow who are making a difference in their schools and communities today. JSA chapters on high schools across the country are fighting political apathy and preparing students to be active and informed participants in our democracy.
Ten New JSA Governors Elected
HEATED ELECTIONS were held across the nation as JSA students competed to become the governors of the 10 JSA states. The campaigns included not only single-digit vote differences, but also the defeat of an incumbent governor and acclamations of at least two candidates.
In an innovative new election format this year, Southeast Territory JSAers voted not on index cards but on electronic voting machines borrowed from the Seminole County Board of Elections. Although for many, the election was their first experience with a voting machine, the county tried to ensure that it would be no one’s last. As each student exited the voting booth, the supervisor of elections offered voter registration forms to those above the age of 18 and pre-registration forms for anyone 16 or 17.
The Arizona Territory held a four-way gubernatorial election between incumbent Gov. Theo Jones — a junior — and candidates Caleb Rhodes, Gilberto Gaza and Devon Edwards.
Election banners and buttons littered the ballroom as the four candidates prepared for the election face-off. With a four-way colored pie chart on the projector, candidates scrambled to campaign through the last minutes until election. Round after round eliminated candidates, and Rhodes, a student at Sonoran Desert High School in Mesa, won in the third runoff with 60 percent of the vote.
CALEB RHODES was exhausted from excitement after the election, but looks forward to the next year: “My campaign was about ‘statesmenship’ becoming the core of JSA’s message, a message that regardless of political views we can still all come together and find solutions to the problems facing our generation. In an era a bitterly partisan politics in both state and federal politics my greatest hope for this year is that we can bring JSA’s message to more students and schools across the country.”
Although SHAWN RUSTERHOLZ of New Jersey’s Freehold Township High School ran unopposed as governor of the Mid-Atlantic State and could not lose the election, his inclusive platform and obvious emotion made for a dramatic election nonetheless. The 2010-2011 New Jersey Region mayor, Shawn said, “I want to see a Mid-Atlantic State that truly thrives off of involvement. Not only do I want to continue the state’s great tradition of providing a forum of debate and discussion for students from across the eastern seaboard, but I want to be able to walk away at the end of the day knowing that I built on that, by getting students involved in their schools, in their communities, and most importantly, in their democracy.”
Shawn’s platform included building partnerships with Young Democrats, Young Republicans, and other similar groups to get JSAers involved with political campaigns, so that JSA students can truly experience the democratic process. He also wants to revamp communication by building the state’s web site into an interactive forum.
In the Midwest State, students elected AADI TOLAPPA from the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, Ill., their new governor. In his freshman year, Aadi got hooked on JSA and started helping the debate department write resolutions and briefs. The next year, as a sophomore, he served as an official debate officer and was then elected the lieutenant governor. This year, he implemented a Supreme Court simulation and served as the bill director at Winter Congress, responsible for putting around 50 bills onto the agenda.
As governor, Aadi would like to reinvent the way JSA uses and collects data. “I want to increase training for both debaters and moderators,” said Aadi. “My biggest goal on the debate and convention side of cabinet is the creation of a debate archive where we compile every debate we use at conventions, and compile scores for a ‘Rate the Debate’ question on every ballot. Cabinets across the country could access information regarding which debates work well and which ones don’t.”
Unsuspected campaign twists injected the Northern California Junior State elections with excitement and adrenaline, as Elizabeth O’Neil, the state’s convention coordinator, dropped out of the gubernatorial race to support candidate Stephanie Ribet. Standout candidate Eric Zhang ran a quasi-populist campaign, previously holding no cabinet position but claiming a plan to “change JSA for the better.”
The election resulted in a 70-percent electoral vote win for STEPHANIE RIBET, a student at The College Preparatory School in Oakland, who looks forward to expanding and innovating the state: “Next year, we are trying to work more effectively by getting more people involved in JSA. I am looking forward to hearing ideas from as many people in the state as possible and am looking to improving Northern California JSA.”
In other races, Shruti Kannan, the 2010-2011 lieutenant governor, stepped down as chair of the Fair Elections Committee at the last minute to support candidate Vivian Chen for lieutenant governor, who later lost to Jason Yu by an overwhelming 75-25 margin.
In the Northeast State, students elected RACHEL WEBER from Clarkstown High School of West Nyack, N.Y., as their new governor. In one of the nation’s hardest-fought gubernatorial races, Rachel triumphed over Robert Perry by winning 57 percent of the vote. Both candidates threw themselves wholeheartedly into the campaign, attending events in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The Northeast’s current co-convention coordinator, Rachel has also served as the Empire Constitution Region director of activism and public relations. As governor, she’d like to go back to her activism roots by revamping civic engagement and emphasizing activism on the national level. “The Northeast State has always been great about social activism, but we need our JSAers to be more civically engaged,” said Rachel. “That means being politically aware, having community service opportunities, going to town hall meetings, or lobbying one’s congressman — activism activities that trickle down the chapter level.”
Rachel also takes seriously her promise to fix her state’s chapter internal affairs department, planning to make it a working resource for chapter presidents.
The new governor-elect for the Ohio River Valley Junior State for 2011-2012 is SAAYEE ARUMUGAM of Miamisburg High School. The race was a tight two-way campaign between opposing candidate Tiantian Zhang and Arumugam.
By a slim margin of only two votes, Arumugam edged out Zhang. Although she lost by a razor-thin margin, Zhang is glad to have run and both candidates displayed statesmenship throughout the intense campaigning.
Arumugam’s platform focused on four points: communication and chapter affairs, expansion, fundraising “and the last component revolving around feedback I receive from constituents in the ORV.” That final section, he said, is “The Statesmen’s Voice.”
Arumugam said he plans to eliminate the current expansion department, since “the current structure has yielded no tangible results” since the ORV obtained statehood. He will appoint a group of expansion responsible for growth in specific areas.
In the Pacific Northwest, a fiercely competitive election was held between three gubernatorial candidates: Jane Nam, Rohan Waghani and Sarah Greenhall. Waghani and Greenhall advanced after the first round of voting, but Nam was only 10 votes behind the leaders. Each candidate campaigned in his or her own individual way: Sarah talked to large groups of people from chapters to rally votes and explain her platform, Nam used posters and Waghani used a Facebook page. All three proposed great ideas on their platforms and ran amazing campaigns, but SARAH GREENHALL won in the runoff to become the 2011-2012 Pacific Northwest governor.
Greenhall, of Washington’s Issaquah High School, pledged to work with both her opponents next year: “I’m very excited to work with my fellow candidates and even more so to serving my state with them.” One of her campaign promises is to organize a “Debate of the Week” on the PNW web site.
The Southeast Territory unanimously elected LAUREN SCHENONE from King Senior High School in Tampa, Fla., its next governor. An experienced JSA member with an impressive resume, in the 2010-2011 school year Lauren served as the state’s lieutenant governor and previously served as its chief of staff.
Lauren’s “dedication to the organization, her personable demeanor, her attuned sense of leadership, and above all, her unwavering diligence were all integral to the success of the Southeast Territory in the past few months,” said current Southeast Territory Gov. Jared Odessky.
A two-term chapter president, Lauren focused most of her platform on helping chapters. Next year, she would like to start a chapter internal affairs department and also revive her territory’s chapter strengthening initiative.
The Southern California Junior State held a tight three-way race between candidates Sarah Murray, Andrew Leontis and Kaitlyn Hittelman. Each candidate had their share of materials, posters, and members of respective campaign teams. Amidst the “Leontis for Governor” pens, the Hittelman cookies, and the “Murray for More” fliers, JSA buddies Hittelman and Murray beat out Leontis in the first round of voting.
After a short but intense period of campaigning, in the second round of voting, Hittelman edged out Murray with 54 percent of the electoral vote. Despite the loss, Murray thoroughly enjoyed the campaign experience: “I learned a lot from the campaign. I rediscovered why I love JSA: It has made me who I am today, given me the friends I’m fortunate to have now and inspired me to make a difference.”
Gov.-elect KAITLYN HITTELMAN of Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana, said, “What I look forward to most is the creation of a new activism department that will focus on community outreach and political advocacy to let the youth voice be known throughout the state, not just at conventions.”
Things were less tight in the Texas Junior State, where candidate ANDREW MARGRAVE ran unopposed. The state stood unified behind Margrave as gubernatorial candidate as he was elected via acclamation.
The difficulty in the election was “trying to meet every single person and still having the same learning experience a gubernatorial candidate has,” said Andrew, of Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio. He also discovered the fantastic potential of the state as a whole. “My unique opportunity is leading a unified Texas state next year,” said Margrave, “I know we have the potential and the quality but we simply need to take that step to making a difference. We choose to be JSAers and expand not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because achieving that goal will bring all of us together to serve a greater purpose, because we can come together to be part of something larger than a collection of individuals, because we can dare to reach the stars.”
JSA ‘Statesmen of the Year’ Named
AT THE END of the school year, each of JSA’s 10 states and territories names one of their own as “Statesman of the Year.” The award acknowledges not only the personal qualities of the individual student but also their hard work and commitment to JSA and its principles.
Here are the statesmen and stateswomen who were named for the 2010-2011 school year:
• A three-year member of the Arizona Territory member, CINDY HWANG of Phoenix Country Day School has served as the debate director of the territory for two years. Each week, she devotes several hours to writing debate topics, contacting debaters, writing briefs, focusing on a balanced convention. Arizona doesn’t have an automated debate system, so Cindy manually handled the debate sign ups by emailing individual debaters.
Cindy also served as chapter president and in November, she arranged for mock elections on the major races and propositions facing Arizona voters. After the real elections, she presented her school with an analysis the results of both mock election and real election. She also arranged for U.S. Rep. Ben Quayle to come speak to her chapter about his experiences as a freshman in Congress and about the legislative process in general.
• Balancing her work between the three varying levels of JSA — serving as the co-president of her chapter, the chief of staff to the Mid-Atlantic State and the national co-director of communications — LEORA ROSENBERG from High-Tech High School of North Bergen, N.J., perfectly exemplifies the qualities of a “Statesman of the Year.”
Gov. Brent Bovenzi is highly appreciative of the hard work and passion Rosenberg displays daily: “In addition to balancing three very different jobs, [Leora] is one of the most innovative people in the Mid-Atlantic State, coming up with schemes to get people engaged at conventions and to get them involved in debates. I truly am thankful for having such a dedicated statesperson within the Mid-Atlantic.” Rosenberg was defeated by Bovenzi in last year’ election, but her commitment to JSA and friendship with Bovenzi never waned.
• This year, VICKY FERNANDEZ from Lincoln Park High School in Chicago, served as the Midwest State’s director of activism, and “Thanks to her,” said Gov. Tony Castagnoli, “the fundraising and causes at state conventions were more prominent than ever before.” Persistent, Vicky contacted keynote speakers and the 25 political groups that would appear at the two political fairs she spearheaded. At Spring State, Vicky’s commitment to active citizenship truly showed as she organized two events, a Jeopardy game with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and a paper-crane folding activity, which raised more than $1,000 for Japan.
As a three-term chapter president, Vicky shined outside of JSA as well: she volunteers at Climate Cycle, an organization that educates young people about environmental sustainability.
• As the director of Northern California’s debate department, MALLORY CRAIG KARIM of Acalanes High School in Lafayette successfully brought about new styles of debate and revitalized previously repetitive resolutions. She has never missed a deadline on her assignments and truly dedicates her whole to JSA and its mission.
As a professional who also actively creates personal relations with all JSAers, Mallory has helped every new debater in Northern California JSA overcome the fear of “first speeches” and enjoys helping those who partake in her passion for JSA. Lt. Gov.-elect Jason Yu looks to her as a true role model: “Mallory is perhaps the most reliable, kind, and intelligent person in all of JSA.”
• Initially drawn to JSA because he loved to debate, JONAH JOSELOW quickly blossomed into a Northeast State and national leader. After serving as the state’s director of technology in his sophomore year, Jonah turned his attention to JSA events as the Northeast conference coordinator. This year, the Ossing (N.Y.) High School student served both as the Northeast chief of staff and completed a second term as national director of technology.
From the beginning, Jonah recognized JSA as a platform to merge his two passions: technology and politics. Yet Jonah’s personality proved as indispensable as his techie skills. “I have always admired both his work ethic and his professionalism while dealing with assignments and last-minute emergencies,” says Northeast Gov. Lia Cromwell. On the subject of his award, Jonah spoke more plainly, offering just his simple signature: “I love you.”
• As the national chief of staff, RACHEL ZUPAN from Ohio’s Ashland High School served in the highest position on national cabinet and worked to connect and assist the 10 governors across the JSA. Zupan has attended both Georgetown Summer School and Montezuma Leadership Summit.
Ohio River Valley Gov. Raja Gupta is proud of Zupan’s achievements and grateful for her work: “She is one of the hardest working people I have known and having her work so diligently as a part of the ORV cabinet has been nothing short of amazing. She is the type of person that you can always count on to get things done because her love for JSA is endless. She has gone far above the call of duty to make this year the great year it has been.”
• A dedicated Pacific Northwest State cabinet member and JSAer since the beginning of her sophomore year, TATIANA KAEHLER from the International School in Bellevue, Wash., last year, as the director of chapter internal affairs, coordinated many regional and statewide events. This year, as director of logistics, she has worked even closer with Gov. Issy Figueroa in conducting successful conventions for the Pacific Northwest.
Outside of JSA, Kaehler is exceptionally dedicated to civic engagement and the JSA motto, “Be the People.” Kaehler is an intern at the Washington Bus Project, an organization that opens the eyes of high school students to activism and governmental involvement. Her senior project includes hours of research on engagement, presentations in local schools on high school activism, and the coordination of many lectures emphasizing the importance of student involvement.
• ADRIENNE HARREVELD of Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, focused on JSA and the Southeast Territory as a forum to get other high school students involved in politics. During the 2010 election season, she set up canvassing and phone banking opportunities for JSA members with both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Outside of JSA, Adrienne plays an active role in her community. This year, she served as the intern manager to U.S. Rep. Ron Klien’s campaign. As president of her school’s Amnesty International chapter, she also organizes fundraisers for various human rights campaigns and puts together a yearly concert and petition drive. Adrienne has also played the trombone for 10 years, focusing on jazz and classical music.
• Before ERIC CHEN from Camarillo High School joined Southern California JSA, Camarillo was not yet a JSA chapter. Today, the chapter is one of the Channel Island Region’s strongest. Eric represented his region as a senator and dedicated his time fully to his aims on the chapter, regional, and state level. Eric commits to his tasks as model JSAer, leading others by example.
The astounding growth that Eric achieved exemplifies his extreme passion for the organization. Southern California Gov. Matt Saunders truly cherished his story of JSA nothing: “Eric started his chapter from growth and made it a force to be reckoned with. He is always available when JSA needs him and has devoted so much time and energy to the success of the SoCal State as CIR senator. His leadership will truly be missed.”
• Coordinating many events in effort to raise money for Invisible Children — a group seeking to end the war in Northern Uganda — and even inviting a touring group to speak at Texas’ Spring State convention, AVANTIKA KRISHNA from The Woodlands College Park High School, put together a speakers’ program that included a new film called “Tony,” based on a Ugandan who inspired the movement, and Tony was even at the convention to greet JSAers. After watching the film and asking questions, students were given the opportunity to freely interact with Invisible Children at any time in the convention. Moreover, she also helped organize a Mr. JSA Pageant to raise more money for the organization. By the end of sales and continued donations, Avantika had raised more than $4,500 for Invisible Children.
Top JSA Chapters Heralded
TEACHER-ADVISORS gathered at the various JSA Spring State conventions in recent weeks to name their state’s best individual campus chapters. The “Chapter of the Year” designation is much coveted and from these state and territory winners, a panel of judges will select one chapter as the winner of JSA’s National Civic Impact Award.
Here are the state and territory winners for the 2010-2011 school year:
ARIZONA: Kofa High School
The winning chapter kicked off its activist-filled year with a controversial school topic: “I Love Boobies” bracelets (designed to spread breast cancer awareness) were being banned from classrooms at Kofa High School in Yuma. However, the school’s JSA students recognized this breach of their freedom to speech and enjoyed exercising their opinions on the issue.
The chapter also hosted a political “Spirit Week” at school; while “Spirit Weeks” usually deal with football or cheerleaders, the students put their own activist spin into activities — which included dressing up as their favorite political mascot and registering to vote. Local political parties and groups even came and hosted a political faire for all students to attend.
Weekly, the chapter held meetings featuring many activities and speakers, including a member of the Mexican consulate. Immigration policy remains a big and personal issue, and students always have a lot of questions to ask the speaker. This involvement expanded to an large amount of students in the school, leading to an attendance of 65 delegates to Spring State.
Having recognized the political dedication of the club, the mayor of Yuma offered internships to seven chapter members. The City Council even contacted Kofa administration to ask which clubs would be best suited for a political internship, and immediately were referred to JSA. Seven members shadowed City Council and the mayor and even held a meeting.
MID-ATLANTIC: South Jersey Homeschool Academy
Members of the South Jersey Homeschool chapter enjoy bi-weekly meetings filled with fun and educational activities. Early in the year, the chapter launched its “In the Know?!” campaign to promote awareness of current political issues. The initiative required members to review, research and respond to student-selected issues chosen for debate. Students can then apply this knowledge to both chapter debates and discussions at conventions. The South Jersey Homeschool chapter proudly boasts awards for multiple first-time debaters. Inner development, political involvement and civic pride molded this student body this year into a unified and enthusiastic group.
The students eagerly responded to the politics of local and federal governments. Political engagement on the home front included lobbying in Washington on Capitol Hill, meeting directly with congressional representatives and their legislative assistants, campaigning for now-U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan in the past election, and writing to senators and representatives. Chapter member Daniel Margulis said, “The best part of our political activism this year was meeting with Rep, Andrews himself during our lobbying trip in D.C. I felt like I was having more of an impact because I was being heard by a legislator. When you meet with the staff, you might wonder if your ideas and concerns are going to be relayed accurately, or even at all. Meeting with an actual legislator assured me that our system is democratic.”
The chapter also embraced their civic duty and responsibilities within their community. Students co-hosted multiple elementary education programs for with Junior Achievement of New Jersey Inc., served monthly with the Neighborhood Center in Camden and organized numerous food drives and fundraisers for area shelters. Recently, the students hosted a Benefit Concert for a family whose mother is battling leukemia and whose father is unemployed. Their immense logistical efforts led to an amazing event with 300 people in attendance and raised $5200 for this very appreciative family.
MIDWEST: Arrowhead High School
Unlike most debates, at Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wis., JSA debates are led by the chapter’s Democratic and Republican chairs, two students who present their party’s stance on every issue that comes before the chapter, and put together “cheat sheets” to help new debaters quickly jump into the debate.
This year, the chapter took its activities to a whole new level — at each week’s meeting, the debates stretch to more than 90 minutes.
After each debate, the chapter grabs a quick meal together. Although their school year is about to end, students love JSA so much that they’ve decided to continue their meetings and debates informally during the summer.
In the realm of activism, Arrowhead students truly shine. Captivated by teachers protesting in Madison, they struggled to find a way to support them without shedding JSA’s bipartisan nature.
Finally, they decided to set up a shuttle service to help protesters on both sides get to Madison. Although they mostly shuttled JSA members, other members of the community also began using the JSA shuttle service. The students also initiated activism grants, offering a $10-$25 grant to anyone who offered an idea that captured the chapter’s attention.
Amongst other projects, the chapter funded a book drive to collect books for young children. Hoping to spread their activism throughout the school, students also organized an activism fair that featured the Libertarian Party, Tall Pines Conservancy, United Way, Women’s League of Voters, Democratic Party, and Humane Society.
The chapter also organized one of the Midwest’s best Mini-Cons of the year. “We have a reputation for really funny but informative speakers,” explains Chapter President Ryanne Olsen. “So lots of people came.” In addition to debates, the Mini-Con featured Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tim John, who discussed what exactly goes into organizing a state-wide campaign.
NORTHEAST: Ashland High School
JSA students at Ashland High School in Massachusetts shook up its debate standards by putting the chapter on a debate schedule which regularly switched up the format. New students were enticed by the many formats, and many subsequently joined the chapter.
Interested in the elections for the House of Representatives, the chapter decided to jump into the campaign season by inviting campaign managers to their meetings. They hosted guest speakers from the campaigns of both the Republican challenger and the Democratic incumbent. After taking questions from the chapter, the speakers opened up political opportunities for chapter members. Chapter President Cian Fields was invited to a party dinner, and a few chapter members made their voices heard when they campaigned for the incumbent.
The chapter also hosted a Mini-Con which featured State Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). Led by skilled networkers, the chapter maintained its relationship with Sen. Spilka, and she’s now adamant about offering internships to its senior members. Although, like all chapters, Ashland needs to raise money to attend conventions, they chose to donate all the proceeds from their Mini-Con to the Northeast activism cause, College Summit, an organization that works to build a college-going culture in high schools nationwide.
Between their planned debate schedule, networking with local politicians, and activism in the Boston area, the chapter had an amazing year. “We are chapter of the year,” said chapter member and New England Vice-Mayor Jesse Hanson, “because not only did we earn the reputation of the largest club in our school, but we really went above and beyond with both the JSA and the Ashland community.”
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: University High School
Henna Kaushal founded the University High School chapter in Fresno in Fall 2009, and when it first began, it was the final addition to the Central Valley, changing its status from territory to region. Now, it is one of the largest and strongest chapters in the entire region, often helping smaller chapters in their struggles and offering its services to aid them in any way they can.
The chapter hosted the first CVR Regional in 2010 and in March 2011, its hosted the first CVR Mini-Con, which chapter members planned and organized by themselves.
Chapter meetings generally consist of debates and thought talks, though members like to keep a bit of variety by adding activities such as watching documentaries, potluck lunches, impromptu speeches, guest speakers and outdoor debates. Chapter fundraisers are primarily bake sales, but students also participated in the Equal Exchange Fundraiser, selling organic fair-trade goods, such as teas, coffees and chocolate. Members also raised money for the International Justice Mission, which helps victims of the modern slave trade, by holding a school fundraiser called “Loose Change to Loosen Chains.”
The University High School chapter won both the Fall State and Spring State Northern California Activism Awards for its community involvement and engagement in the state-wide activism project, “The Race to Save California Schools.” As part of the project, members hosted a voter-registration drive in cooperation with the Fresno State Republicans and the Fresno State Democrats, promoting bi-partisanship as well as promoting the civic duty of citizens to vote for the November elections. Members also volunteer monthly at the Povorello House, a local soup kitchen and homeless shelter.
OHIO RIVER VALLEY: Danville High School
The Ohio River Valley nominated Danville High School as its 2011-2012 Chapter of the Year. The chapter focuses primarily on two things-debate and service. Each week debate chair Nathan Johnson helps organize a controversial topic. The chapter leadership aims to make its debates accessible and relevant to make sure people who are not accustomed debaters learn that they have a voice and more importantly, a valuable opinion.
With regards to service in the community, the chapter reaches out to sites such as the McDowell Place Assisted Living Center to visit, play games, and make baked goods for fundraisers with the seniors. The chapter even hosts an annual Veteran Day’s Assembly every year on November 11th, during which they bring in local servicemen and women to thank them for their dedication to the country.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST: Sunset High School
Holding the distinction of being the only Oregon chapter in several years, Sunset High School in Portland was founded by Summer School graduate Jane Nam two years ago. The chapter commits to many activism and civic engagement activities, such as the “Trick or Vote” held by the awareness-inducing Bus Project organization, the voluntary drives at the Oregon Food Bank and fundraising through JSA shirts to donate back to the foundation.
As the second largest delegation at Spring State 2011, Sunset High has also expanded its reach to five new Oregon schools. The unprecedented growth and dedication the chapter shows clearly proves it deserving of the award. Chapter President Jane Nam only looks to improve the Pacific Northwest further: “We’ve established a strong foundation for Oregon expansion so that one day we may double the size of the Pacific Northwest!”
SOUTHEAST TERRITORY: Coral Springs Christian Academy
When the Southeast Territory Convention Coordinator Kathryn Edmunds told her fellow Coral Springs Christian Academy chapter members about the Chapter of the Year award, they decided to make winning the prestigious honor their goal for this year. Chapter officers started having cabinet meetings during the summer to set goals and plan out major events. At Spring State, all the planning paid off when the state’s teacher advisors named it the Chapter of the Year.
The chapter started the year with its annual Kick-Off Party where members both new and returning enjoyed food and two debates. The event helped Coral Springs grow into the biggest chapter in the Southeast Territory. “At each JSA convention, we are proud to say that we have the largest attendance out of all the chapters attending,” said Chapter President T.J. Littlejohn. Yet the chapter places equal emphasis on the quality of its delegates. At each convention students take every opportunity to participate, and the chapter boasts many serious debaters and moderators.
The chapter also hosts its own local events. At the chapter’s Mad Tea-Party Mini-Con, students participated in debates centered on the emergence of the Tea Party while surrounded by decorations and costumes evocative of the new Alice in Wonderland movie. The students also organized their first Annual Dinner and Debate where they invited members of the community to examine the topic “Resolved, that President Obama is leading the country in the right direction.”
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Downey High School
The JSA Downey High chapter was founded in 2000 with a small number of students and today it has improved its membership to more than 80 tax-paid members. In the past 12 months, Downey JSA has not only expanded, but also increased convention attendance, participated in political activities in its community, members held positions on cabinet, increased activism at the chapter level, and hosted its first ever Mini-Con.
Not only has the chapter grown exponentially in numbers, but also grown in terms of expanding its political horizons. Members actively assisted Downey City Councilman Fernando Vasquez in his election by doing door-to-door campaigning, phoning residents and staffing various events. In addition to this, members increased their civil involvement by attending PTA, school board and city council meetings where they were able to express the views of the student body on certain issues and actively listen to the latest changes in its community. Downey JSA has also done its part in civil services by assisting in monthly clean-up days with the Keep Downey Beautiful organization.
Downey High JSA hosted the only Mini-Con in the Angeles Region this year. Not only did it host a successful day of debate, political activities and a candidates forum, but chapter members were also able to interact with regional and state candidates and created a lasting bond with each other and members from other schools.
TEXAS: Hooks High School
Inspired by CANVAS (Change Always Needs Voices Able to Speak), the Hooks High School JSA chapter has engaged students to get involved and active in government and has encouraged the “growth of tomorrow’s leaders.”
In the community, Hooks — which is on the Arkansas border — has held a charitable trick-or-treat to raise awareness first for philanthropy and second for the actions of JSA. The chapter also conducted a high school mock elections, building voter participation and experience. The chapter has also reached out multiple times to similar causes-giving seed money to a Rotary Interact Club and providing funding for Girl’s State participants.
Chapter President Erin Daughtery and Teacher-Advisor Mychele Hughes are both very proud of the chapter, and continue to include students in a common goal of activism and engagement: “Every year we start anew with the same founding principles of diversity, inclusion, and education. Though this may seem a bit meticulous, we find it imperative to start with the basics every year in order to grow in confidence and in “finding our voices,” they said in their nomination papers. “We have found that diversity, inclusion, education, and democracy have led our members to find their voice and feel that they can make a difference knowing that their opinions are important.”
Karen’s Corner: By Karen Prosser
Greetings, dear reader: It’s been an awesome year for Amy Prosser (American University SS 1984). She is engaged to Josiah Polhemus, a childhood friend. They met when they were 12 years old. Josiah was “Schroeder” and Amy was “Peppermint Patty” in a production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” at the Palo Alto Childrens’ Theatre. They are both professional actors and playwrights. Amy just finished a run in a production of “Jesus Hopped the A Train” at Sacramento’s Capitol Stage. The reviews were fabulous (see the one in the Sacramento Bee).
JSArizona: The Junior State’s newest territory is losing a great group of seniors this month. Natalia Hendrickson, (Georgetown 2009; Beijing 2010), is the outgoing chapter president of Kofa High School in Yuma. Under her leadership, Kofa brought 65 students to the JSAZ Spring State, fielded candidates for JSAZ governor and lieutenant governor, and won the Prof. Rogers Award as Chapter of the Year. Natalia is off to Harvard this fall. As for Cindy Hwang — state debate director in both 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, Phoenix Country Day Chapter President 2010-2011, Georgetown 2010 and Arizona Statesman of the Year — she’s off to Yale in the fall.
Junior State babies: A May 16 email received from Phil Bellaria: “Maura, Cate, Jackie & I are pleased to announce the birth of Philip Johnston Bellaria today at 12:34 p.m. John (or Johnny Rockets, according to Cate & Jackie) weighs in at 8-pounds, 14-ounces and at full stretch measures 20½ inches. The other newborns in the nursery are slightly intimidated!” Mommy is Maura Johnston, JSA Southern California governor in 1991-1992, JSA Georgetown 1990; JSA Stanford 1991; Cornelia Connolly School. Cate and Jackie are John’s big sisters.
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June 5-8, 2011
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