Junior States of America attend Spring State Convention

Students+play+Jeopardy+at+the+regional+caucus+during+JSA%27s+NorCal+Spring+State+Convention.
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Junior States of America attend Spring State Convention

Students play Jeopardy at the regional caucus during JSA's NorCal Spring State Convention.

Students play Jeopardy at the regional caucus during JSA's NorCal Spring State Convention.

Clara Szego

Students play Jeopardy at the regional caucus during JSA's NorCal Spring State Convention.

Clara Szego

Clara Szego

Students play Jeopardy at the regional caucus during JSA's NorCal Spring State Convention.

Brianna Cheng, Staff Writer

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Carlmont’s Junior States of America Club (JSA) attended the Northern California Spring State Convention, where club secretary Mira Wakefield was elected senator for the Golden Gate Region.

The Spring State Convention was organized into time blocks, where participants could attend various debates and discussions on current events.

There were some really great debates. One, which I moderated, was ‘Is American cultural diversity important than American cultural unity?’ Nobody from our chapter competed in that debate, but I was able to moderate it, and it was really fascinating to listen to,” Wakefield said. 

Carlmont JSA members also participated directly in debates, engaging in lively, but friendly arguments over polarizing topics.

“Daniel Kogan, the club co-president, also participated in the debate on whether the US justice system was inherently racist. His opponent was very good,” said Clara Szego, a Spring State attendee for Carlmont.

There were also less politically divisive and intensive activities for the less prepared attendees, such as the rap battles.

“I beatboxed while Mira Wakefield rapped about Wonder Woman. It’s just a fun activity to participate in, even if you aren’t as aware of the political atmosphere,” Szego said.

Wakefield described the structure of the debates and rap battles at Spring State.

Our whole chapter collaborated and wrote a rap in a couple of minutes, and we got selected as a subsequent speaker went up there and did a rap.”

— Mira Wakefield

“I participated in the Wonder Woman v. Superman battle, it was really fun. The way debates are structured at JSA, there are established speakers who sign up beforehand. Then, any speaker in the audience can be selected afterward to speak on the debate on either side. We weren’t primary speakers, but we decided that we’d like to go up there and just have some fun. So our whole chapter collaborated and wrote a rap in a couple of minutes, and we got selected as a subsequent speaker went up there and did a rap. It was really cool,” Wakefield said.

There was also a political fair at the convention, where various political parties set up booths and discuss their platforms with politically-active and civically-engaged students.

The political fair was a lot of fun. Everyone is very open to new ideas, which is pretty rare, or not shown in the media. I talked to the Libertarian and Green Parties, and they told me a little bit about what they do and what their agendas are. Even though I don’t identify with those parties personally, it was nice to be in like an open like non-hostile environment to just have the discussion,” Szego said. 

Keynote speakers also spoke at the convention. This year, Ted Lempert, a former member of the California State Assembly, spoke at the convention

We had a keynote speaker, his name was Ted Lempert he’s very accomplished: he served in the state legislature he’s also super accomplished in the education field and has done a lot of stuff to do to help move forward that agenda,” Abby Sanders, co-president of JSA, said. 

The attendees also stay overnight, and regions within the NorCal state meet in regional caucuses.

There are nighttime activities at the regional caucus, where your region gets to know each other and plays games. They have karaoke, where Kogan sang ‘Never Gonna Give You Up,'” Sanders said. 

Szego also said that at the regional caucus, the Golden Gate Region played Jeopardy.

Another notable event at the regional caucuses are the elections. At the state elections, the next year’s governor, lieutenant governor, and two senators are elected. Wakefield won one of those senatorial seats.

I really wanted to give back to the organization. I decided to run after New Leaders, which is a smaller convention that occurs about mid-year. My platform was to unify our region. I want to unify our region through more online communication, and also in-person connection. I want to get old social media pages for our region up and running and increase in-person connection at conventions and Chapter Cons, which are smaller one-day conventions throughout the Bay Area. I can’t wait to get started on that,” Wakefield said. 

At the regional elections, the mayor and vice mayor are selected. Anita Beroza, another club member, ran for mayor of the Golden Gate Region, but she did not win the election.

“At Spring State I was actually running for mayor of the region which I lost, but that’s okay. I campaign mostly on social media. Also, early on in the campaign, I campaigned at New Leaders, which was a different convention, and then Chapter Cons, where I handed out brochures and I also handed out cookies,” Beroza said. 

If you are a high schooler that is politically minded, and you want to get involved in your community and in civics, in local government, or even if you’re just looking for a place to gain some public speaking skills or get to know some great new people, JSA is the right place for you.”

— Mira Wakefield

In addition to the state and regional elections, the Carlmont chapter also voted on new leadership for next year. Sanders was re-elected, and former vice president Brennan Dai was elected as co-president alongside Sanders. Nedjma Enloe became vice president, Wakefield was re-elected as secretary, and Beroza became treasurer.

“Next year, we want to expand. We kind of revived JSA this year. Last year, we had three people as regulars. This year, we fluctuate between eight and 15 regulars.  Next year, we want to make ourselves a little more established and more well-known. We also want to add a little more structure to our meeting. We’ll definitely do some formal debates, but we also may explore some of the other types of debates JSA offers,” Sanders said. 

The club is optimistic for next year, in their plans to grow as a club and as civically-engaged students.

If you are a high schooler that is politically minded, and you want to get involved in your community and in civics, in local government, or even if you’re just looking for a place to gain some public speaking skills or get to know some great new people, JSA is the right place for you,” Wakefield said. 

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