JSA optimistic for new year


Lillian Gottschling

JSA club members debate about how much, if at all, the government should pay for citizens’ medical bills.

For students interested in having a discussion about political aspects of the school, Junior State of America is an essential club to check out. 

So far in the school year, JSA has 12 students consistently in the club. While all the students have differing political opinions, they all find a place in JSA, discussing how they think. “My favorite part is that everybody who shows up is totally willing to have a discussion with each other,” James Nicholson, senior, said. “We’re here to talk to each other, we’re not here to shut down conversation.”

Nicholson has been a member of the group for three years, and joined JSA because he was interested in politics. He was initially introduced into the group by a friend who had recently graduated.

“It’s a lot of learning, it’s a lot of fun,” Nicholson said. ”It’s a good way to improve your debating skills even more. Because if you want to, you can get up there and speak, but you can also just sit back and watch and see how other people debate.” 

Zachary Miller, senior, is the current president of the club. He joined JSA as a sophomore, became vice president as a junior, then moved up to president as a senior. “Some people in JSA are a little more on the left. Some people are on the right,” Miller said. “I think I tend to fall right in the middle, so I think it works for everyone. Everyone agrees.” 

When Miller was asked about how their club decides the debate topics, he said, “Last year our chapter president picked the topics, but I look for something that I know will encourage debate, that there are multiple sides to look at,” Miller said. “Even among people who call themselves more liberal or call themselves more conservative, even within those factions, people disagree. That’s the ideal topic.”

JSA has three conventions a year where they go debate with other high schools about politics. The fall and spring conventions both take place in Seattle and the winter convention is in Portland. 

“I think students who go to the conventions tend to have a lot more buy into the club, they’re more excited about it,” Matt Gottschling, the coordinator for JSA, said. Gottschling has been the advisor for three years.

With the constant evolving of politics in America, JSA may be the club for you.“If you’re at all interested in politics, or you just have an opinion or an idea that you want to get out that’s somehow related to the government, or you just want to learn,” Miller said, “then I’d encourage you to come.”