The frigid cold and the snow of November 18th’s morning were little match for the warmth of conversation at play in Oconomowoc High School in southern Wisconsin. The JSA chapter from Oconomowoc was hosting its first ChapCon ever, and the enthusiasm of the event’s student organizers was palpable upon entering the building. Delegates came from nearly ten different chapters, and numbered about 40 in total. Branded as PartyCON, the chapter convention was themed around the American political parties — primarily the Democratic and Republican establishments. Discourse throughout the day generally considered highly partisan issues, including President Trump’s border wall and the Kaepernick kneeling incident during the National Anthem.
What differentiated the Oconomowoc ChapCON from other ChapCONs (particularly its Naperville North predecessor) was a large speaker presence. The ChapCON began with not one but two keynote speakers, state representative Christine Sinicki and Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Both politicians had strong messages for attending students. Kleefisch, having faced an ordeal with cancer immediately prior to her first election in 2010 and a strong journalistic background, asked present JSAers to “broaden their worldview” and emphasized the power of their votes and voice in politics. This idea was repeated later in the day by party representatives from the local Democratic and Republican organizations, who implored students to actively get involved in local-level politics during political activism workshops held at the end of the day.
Certainly, despite it being Oconomowoc’s first chapter con, PartyCON was a major success. Chapter President Leah Rodewald and her Exec Board threw a spectacular convention enjoyed by all of its attendees, and the Midwest is excited for more chapter conventions at Oconomowoc in the coming years.