Junior State of America engages in virtual Winter Congress


Abbie Goldstein ’22

Winter Congress took place through Zoom and utilized the breakout room function to divide members into their designated committees. Zoom was an extremely convenient resource to use and allowed the convention to run smoothly.

Each year, members of the national, student-run organization Junior State of America (JSA) long for Winter Congress, a three-day convention in Washington D.C. where students from all over the country come together to participate in a mock Congress. Students have the opportunity to write and debate bills in the Congress, hold party caucuses and learn more about the legislative process.

Participants in the chapter at Staples countdown the days until they can walk through the capitol building, engage in intellectual conversations with others and discuss interesting legislation in committees. However, this year looked very different. Due to COVID-19, Winter Congress took place online via Zoom.

“Although I wasn’t able to experience the fun trip to D.C. this year, I was so glad I was still able to participate in an online Winter Congress,” Staples JSA Treasurer Piper Cohen ’22 said. “I was excited to […] get to hear bill proposals from students across the country.”

“Although I wasn’t able to experience the fun trip to D.C. this year, I was so glad I was still able to participate in an online Winter Congress,

— Piper Cohen '22 said

From Feb. 26-28, JSA members navigated the JSApp to find the schedule and breakout rooms to join. Members signed up for their committees before the convention started and tech help was provided to assist anyone with possible questions.

“The heads of the convention explained everything really well and had a really easy system to use,” Staples JSA Director of Media Maia Gubitz ’24 said. “It was a really fun event and I learned a lot from it.”

Members were also excited that the keynote speaker was Stacey Abrams, an American politician, lawyer, voting rights activist and author. Abrams spoke for an hour, highlighting how her childhood has influenced who she is today and the importance of facing the injustices in the United States. Many were moved by her speech, which was followed by a Q&A session.

“It was somehow even better than I expected and I was expecting it to be pretty cool,” Staples JSA Chapter President Elana Atlas ’21 said. “It was amazing. I was so inspired I started crying.”

Although many were disappointed that they couldn’t make the bus ride down to D.C. this year, they were elated that there was at least a convention of some sort and that all chapters came together to form a solution.

“Of course I miss in-person conventions, but I think it shows how special the JSA community truly is,” Atlas said. “We can still come together and enjoy a weekend of lively debate and lots of laughter online.”