Politics in a new era: JSAers prepare for a virtual winter convention


Amit Deshpande, Staff Writer

The excited noise of chatter in the bus scatters and eventually dies down. Students peer through the windows, trying to get a better angle. Towering buildings block their view, but eventually the bus exits the crowded streets of the capital, revealing the Washington monument, Pentagon building and the US Capitol. This was among some of the first sights that new JSAers experienced as they entered Washington D.C. for the annual JSA Winter Congress last year. 

Every year, high schools from all over the Mid-Atlantic State, and Texas, gather in the nation’s capital for a winter convention to experience D.C., debate and vote on student-written bills with other chapters, and take part in various activities to build a bond with like-minded students. But this year, the pandemic set an unprecedented challenge for organizers to run Winter Congress remotely, and while a virtual event will be taking place, it is unable to replace the trip to D.C. that everyone knew and loved.

“Winter Congress used to be an experience, not just a convention,” co-president of SPFJSA Ezri Abraham said. “The trip to DC [Washington] cannot be replaced, but JSAers are still determined to make the most of this year.”

Despite the incomplete experience, members of SPFJSA are still enthusiastic about this year’s convention. While the visit to the capital may be missing, the past year has been a wild ride for American politics, and many expect to have a productive conversation with other students from other highschools. 

“Although it’s virtual, I’m still excited to see what Winter Congress has to offer,” junior Vincent Augello said. “This is my first time engaging in a large-scale debate where I’m able to exchange thoughts, and I think my group and I have an interesting opportunity to explore that realm.”

Thousands of students like Augello are looking forward to a virtual mock congressional debate regarding bills addressing various issues, including, but not limited to: police violence, trans rights and economic equity. 

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, the JSA spirit stands unwavering. With a nation more divided than ever, America’s youth is devoted to shaping a more just and stable future for the country.