The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Junior State of America Club gears up for Winter Congress

Audrey Navasca
Co-presidents Sam Dechaine and Elaine Jiang lead the club meeting, starting with the announcements and then a debate. The debate topic for the day was whether the world should operate on 24-hour time rather than regions having separate time zones.

From practicing public speaking, learning about the U.S. government, and getting involved in the community, students in Carlmont’s Junior State of America (JSA) get to take these skills and bring them all the way to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

JSA is a club dedicated to encouraging students to become active members of our democracy and building leadership skills to inspire them to become future leaders, according to their mission.

The club has the opportunity to go to Winter Congress, a convention in Washington, D.C. The club members have been working very hard to prepare for Winter Congress, such as writing bills, holding debates, and, most importantly, raising enough money to be able to go.

Sam Dechaine, a senior, is one of the presidents of Carlmont’s JSA, and she has been leading the club in their various fundraising events.

“We’ve raised about $1,500 so far by working at formal, going to football games to sell lemonade and hot chocolate, and it’s all been student-run,” Dechaine said.

Last summer, she found out that JSA would be holding Winter Congress in D.C., unlike their other in-state conferences.

“I knew it would be expensive and difficult, but I wanted to make it happen,” Dechaine said.

Not only did she have to plan for herself to go across the country, but she also had to plan for 12 other students that she would be responsible for.

Along with her co-president, Elaine Jiang, and treasurer, Daniel Moskovits, they devised itineraries, looked at flights, and booked hotels in only two weeks.

“It’s been relatively stressful to navigate a world of plane tickets and hotel bookings designed for adults with jobs, not necessarily high school students,” Moskovits said.

The chance for a club to go across the country is rare, especially when the ability to cover the expenses plays a considerable role.

Because of the pandemic, all conventions stopped, including Winter Congress, and only about two years ago did they begin to run normally again. The decision to have it in D.C. this year was because it was cheaper for JSA to hold it there but a lot more expensive for those in attendance.

However, all this effort was worth it, according to Dechaine, as this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students who would go.

“It’s a fun, healthy environment, and there aren’t a lot of clubs where you connect with people about exactly what you’re interested in,” said Jax Manning, a sophomore.

Manning joined JSA last year and is one of the students who will be able to attend Winter Congress. They have been to D.C. multiple times before, but according to Manning, they are excited to experience it in a different context.

As Winter Congress is fast approaching, with only two weeks left, not only do students get to participate in the exciting trip but also take away skills they can apply in the future.

“I want these kids to remember what they did in high school. Debating and critical thinking should stay with them, hopefully for the rest of their lives. That’s what I want them to take out of it,” Dechaine said.

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About the Contributor
Audrey Navasca, Staff Writer
Audrey Navasca (Class of 2026) is a sophomore at Carlmont High School, and this is her first year in the journalism program. She enjoys cooking, listening to music, going to concerts, and taking too many pictures. She has always been passionate about the arts and loves writing, singing, dancing, and painting. Outside of school, you can find her trying new boba shops and hanging out with her friends.

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