The Junior State of America (JSA) wrapped up its annual Winter conventions after bringing together more than 3,000 students in three major cities. At Winter Congress, students had an opportunity to learn how Congress works by simulating it -- writing legislation on issues that they care about, debating those bills with peers, and practicing civil dialogue with others who have a differing view.
Bill topics ran the gamut, from universal healthcare to paternity leave, the opioid epidemic, and school safety. JSA members passionately debated the pros and cons of these issues applying political philosophies across the spectrum -- conservative, liberal, socialist, and libertarian. Check out the full list of bills passed by each state. In total, students passed more than 100 bills that address current issues and concerns for the future. Students also had an opportunity to hear from a number of experts, including the Kevin Martin, founder of PeaceAction, budget activist Mike Murphy, and political strategist George Sundheim.
In addition to legislation, JSA members also elected from among their peers, fellow students to receive the Best Speaker award. These students demonstrate compelling arguments, articulate speeches, and evidence-based presentations. The Best Speaker gavel is a coveted award at JSA conventions and highlights the peer recognition that is core to JSA’s student-led model. Celebrate our 2019 Winter Congress best speakers.
In addition to the sessions where students worked on their bills, they also had some fun moments with evening activities that included quiz bowls, a dance, and designing art that will be donated to nonprofits.
JSA conventions continue to be a space where young people practice civil dialogue and have the opportunity to meet and learn from others who don’t share the same political perspective. Next up is Spring State where JSA members will vy for national and state positions. This year’s theme: America Moving Forward: Democracy in the 21st Century.