JSA members excited for Winter Congress


Photo by Abbie Goldstein ’22

Staples JSA members are excited to arrive in Washington D.C. for their Winter Congress. They will be sightseeing as well as participating in a simulated Congress.

The national student-run organization Junior State of America (JSA) has a chapter at Staples High School, which allows students to engage in political debates, write bills for a mock congress, meet people from all over the country, participate in activism campaigns and find their voice.
Throughout the school year, JSA has three conventions: fall state, winter congress and spring state. These gatherings are where individuals from different chapters debate against each other on controversial issues. These conventions allow people to express their beliefs while improving public speaking skills. Attendance is encouraged not required, but the majority of Staples JSA members are eager to go.
“When there’s a topic that I really want to be involved in then I will definitely try to speak for it at the conventions,” JSA co-director of expansion and Staples co-president Charlie Effman ’20 said.
The conventions also present the opportunity to talk with diverse groups of people and create lasting friendships. JSA is a community that welcomes everyone, and the majority of participants feel confident and supported during their debates.
“You get to meet a bunch of other people from so many different places,” Staples JSA co-president Evan Siegel ’20 said. “I have definitely made so many new friends from going to conventions.”
From Feb. 6 to Feb. 9, the Northeastern chapters will be commuting to Washington D.C. to participate in Winter Congress. This is different from the other conventions because instead of debating resolutions, everyone is engaging in a simulated Congress. Beforehand, volunteers write bills that they will be trying to pass. Only a select amount of people speak and create the bills. Everyone else votes on the passing of a bill, attends committee meetings and learns what the legislative process is in Congress.
“I really like hearing everyone else’s opinions at these conventions, and it helps me see a new perspective on many topics,” Staples JSA co-treasurer Piper Cohen ’22 said.
The convention officially started Friday night and continued through Sunday. Staples students arrived Thursday night and had the full day Friday to walk around and experience Washington with friends.
“We love the D.C. trip a lot. It is a lot of fun to go see all of the monuments and museums, and it’s a fun weekend away from home,” Staples JSA advisor Brendan Giolitto said.
According to jsa.org, “The mission… is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society.”The conventions are definitely a highlight for JSA members, but the club as a whole has been an outlet for people to express their beliefs and be themselves.
“It changed my high school experience 100% and made me into the person I am,” JSA co-convention coordinator and Staples vice-president Elana Atlas ’21 said. “When I was a freshman I wouldn’t speak and was afraid to go anywhere in the conventions by myself, and now I run the conventions […] JSA is the reason I got on a plane for the first time by myself. JSA is the reason I can speak my mind articulately. JSA is the reason I can talk to people who think differently than me. It taught me to do everything that I love.”