Junior State of America promotes open political dialogue


Clara Szego

The Junior State of America Club teaches members to listen to others’ points of view and discuss important issues.

Brianna Cheng, Scot Scoop Editor

According to the Pew Research Center, the divide between Democrats and Republicans on major issues grows wider.

The Junior State of America (JSA) Club at Carlmont is trying to heal that divide by teaching the youth to understand their arguments and recognize each other’s viewpoints.

JSA is truly a place of respect. We live in such polarizing times, and our politics are fraught with partisanship. JSA is one of the only places that I have found where I can have a productive and meaningful conversation with someone with whom I disagree,” said Abby Sanders, the sophomore co-president of the club. 

At most meetings, the club engages in Thought Talks, usually discussing a major current event or polarizing issue.

Every meeting, we usually do a thought talk. It’s not so much of a formal debate, as it is a thoughtful discussion. They are normally about current events, what happened that week, or any particularly pressing issues,” Sanders said. 

The club is only a chapter of the larger, national JSA organization. Carlmont is located within the Northern California state. There are 10 junior states within JSA, and every year, each state elects a governor and cabinet to serve them. The Council of Governors then plans and executes events for the organization.


One of the big conventions for the organization is Winter Congress, which for Northern California, was held on Feb. 23-24 this year.

Winter state is a convention where we go to Sacramento and we hold a mock Congress,” said Anita Beroza, a freshman club member and a senator for Winter Congress. 

Not only to club members pass legislation, but they also announce their candidacies for regional or state level offices.

People normally announce their candidacy for office at the Winter State Convention and delegates from the whole NorCal state vote at our Spring State convention. As far as the NorCal cabinet goes, those positions are obtained through an application process, and the officials elected at Spring State go through the applications,” Sanders said.

The Carlmont JSA club is currently coordinating in order to go to Spring State, the next major convention. For Northern California, the convention is being held in San Jose on April 27 and 28.

For Spring State, we are getting chaperones in order and collecting checks and forms so we can meet the upcoming early registration deadline. On a state level, though, I’m helping to plan some events and initiatives,” Sanders said.

Many of JSA’s initiatives concern supporting the organization, or improving the political dialogue in America. Sanders was a part of the JS Vote initiative, which encouraged people to register and vote for the 2018 midterm elections. Daniel Kogan, the other co-president of the club, is a development agent who helps fundraise for the national organization. However, the larger goal of the organization is to “teach participants to engage civilly in political discourse.”

Junior State of America

Despite the liberal bias here in the Bay Area, the JSA chapter at Carlmont is non-partisan and tries to help give a stronger voice to those on the other side.

“What’s great about JSA is that it is completely non-partisan, so all points of view are equal. For example, Abby and I are the co-presidents, and Brennan [Dai] is the vice president. Brennan is an Independent, I’m Republican, and Abby’s a Democrat. The club showcases almost every single point of view. It allows for everybody to be accepted and to show your point of view and have an impact on your community, and to learn more on a larger scale about how other people think,” Kogan said. 

Many club members hope that their time in the club will help them learn how to understand opposing viewpoints in this polarizing political climate.

“JSA is one of the only places that I have found where I can have a productive and meaningful conversation with someone with whom I disagree. Rarely do I encounter someone who is unwilling to get a better understanding of my views, provided that I do the same for them. It’s not just a debate club – and winning an argument, although it’s nice when I do so, is not the true objective. I can honestly say that if not for JSA, I would not be so open-minded and willing to listen to people with differing viewpoints,” Sanders said.