All you need to know about the SPF Junior State of America Fall State convention

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Erica Schindler

Early in the morning on November 16, members of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood chapter of the Junior State of America departed from the high school for the annual JSA Mid-Atlantic State Fall State convention. The Junior State of America is a national student-run organization that focuses on debate and civic engagement among high school students. The Mid-Atlantic State, the JSA region that the SPF chapter falls into, holds conventions throughout the year.
Fall State is the first overnight convention of the school year. Fall State, Winter Congress, and Spring State are all conventions that provide JSA students with the opportunity to debate other high school students from around the Mid-Atlantic. The two-day long convention is split up into different blocks, with each block having multiple debates. The convention also features a keynote speaker and nighttime activities for students.
“We do debates in different blocks and there’s recreational time and you have a keynote speaker,” said senior and SPF JSA cabinet member Emily Herman. “And it’s all related to politics.”
Students can sign up ahead of time to be the main speaker in a debate, or speak later on in a debate. Politics is the center of JSA, but debate topics can also be related to pop-culture and other topics. No matter the debate topic, students are sure to be interested and engaged.
“My favorite debate was the mass incarceration debate,” said junior Elisa Laurenzano. “It was ‘Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow’. I thought that was really interesting.”
The 2019 Fall State was enjoyed by all and helped students gain experience and confidence in their debating skills. But the convention also served as an opportunity to make new friends and bond with old ones.
“Honestly, I really liked being able to bond more with my chapter,” said junior and SPF JSA vice president Lauren McGovern. “As Vice President of JSA, it’s pretty important to bond with your chapter members and get to know them, and conventions are the best way to do that in my opinion.”
While Fall State is a fun and enjoyable experience, this year was bittersweet for the SPF chapter. It was the first major convention since the passing of history teacher and JSA Advisor David Multer. Having served as the teacher advisor for the club for 30 years, Multer has had an enormous impact on JSA. The convention featured a special tribute to honor Multer’s dedication to JSA, ensuring that every SPF JSA student remembered his meaningful presence.