Northstar: November

NorthStar: November

Northern California, JSA

FALLing In LOVE with JSA

Kittens and puppies are cute!
Hope Valley, South Lake Tahoe has such vibrant, grandiose and energetic foliage during mid-November. In many ways, Hope Valley is just like the Northern Californian Junior Statesmen at Fall State.  Photo Credit:
It is time. Everybody get ready for it. FALL STATE BEGINS NOVEMBER 12!

Fall State, the very first convention of the year where all are welcome. It is at these conventions that many high school lives change because the experience is so new and unique that it pulls in JSA members and lifts them up to view a whole new perspective on politics and students across all of northern California. These conventions embody youth. They are there to satisfy the young mind’s desire to grow, to understand. The mind has so much need to analyze, compare, communicate information and form connections within itself and with others. And here, at Fall State, that desire is channeled through debate. Debating sounds stressful and uncomfortable and in many ways it is, but that does not means it cannot be beautiful and harmonious and enlightening. Recently, debate has been defined by the distasteful snapping and rude outbursts of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton during the Presidential Primaries. But if that were all a proper debate required America and the rest of the world would not be where it is today. It would not be deciding where it is heading now.  Get ready Statesmen, it’s about to get interesting.

Fall State: The Journey Begins

Jesus Tellitud

Brace yourselves, Fall State is coming. November 12th-13th, JSA will hold its annual Fall State convention in Santa Clara. Fall State is the first of three annual conventions where students from around Northern California gather to debate in the Marriott hotel. Students dress formally and practically be politicians for a day. What makes this convention memorable is students will meet with other delegates from chapters spread around NorCal for the first time. Friendships and connections will be founded and established. The whole experience is surreal  as a diversity of students will come together to not only collaborate, meet, and debate, but have fun while doing it. The journey will begin here as the foundation for the rest of the JSA year is set at Fall State.

What do I do?

Joining your school’s JSA chapter is great, but attending a convention will only strengthen your love for JSA but will enhance your experience. So you may ask: what do I actually do at Fall State? The obvious and most simple answer is debate. The debates are the central focus to Fall State and all conventions. That is where delegates will share their ideas and opinions on fun and interesting topics and really see what JSA is all about. You can sign up for a debate before hand or subsequent speak during a debate. They can range from resolved: The U.S. should have open borders with Mexico and Canada to resolved: Kanye is a presidential candidate than Donald Trump. The debates play a huge role in the JSA experience.

Besides debating, students get to meet new people or reconnect with old friends. Whether you meet people while debating a hot topic, striking up a conversation while getting lunch, or even connecting on your love for harambe, whatever the case may be, JSAers will have the opportunity to talk to and meet new, unique people from around NorCal that share the same love for JSA.

Then subtly, the night rolls around. After you’ve have gotten to debate. Meet new people, and eat lunch and dinner, the night life takes over. You either the choice of going to the dance to turn up, the game room to play card games or have conversations with friends, the karaoke room to sing your heart off, or simply relax and sleep in your room after a long day. Whatever your choice, the nightlife is what many look forward to in order to wind down and hang out with friends.

There are countless things to do at Fall State but so little time, so make the most of your experience.  Go out and debate something close to sing your heart out, or introduce yourself to people you may find interesting, or go to the dance and shine with your moves. The convention will end and you may not have done everything, but that’s fine because the journey starts here. It will leave you wanting more and that’s where Winter Congress and Spring State come in.

What do I bring?

After hearing about what you can do, the next question is what do I bring? Delegates will be staying overnight at the Santa Clara hotel and some necessities will be needed. To begin with, students must come in business casual attire. To be a delegate you need to look the part. Guys and gals will vary, obviously, as guys need slacks, button up shirt, and a tie, while ladies should wear a dress or anything suited for a professional setting. Since the stay is two days, two sets of your business casual clothes will most likely be needed.

Now comes everything else. Bring whatever you need to keep up with your hygiene. So deodorant, toothbrush, comb, lotion, etc. This is a major key and a must. Next, is to pack clothes for the nightlife. This can be clothes for the dance or even pajamas for sleep. Bring comfy clothes as you don’t want to be stuck wearing your suit or dress all day. Most importantly, bring only the necessities. For instance your phone, charger, headphones, money (to buy food during the day), or even a laptop. Don’t bring any valuables that may be lost or stolen.

What if I CAn’t go?

Many students will miss out on the Fall State experience. However, that is why there are two more conventions. Even if you miss Fall State the experience will still be the same as students will come together again and share their love for JSA. If you are planning to go, though, get ready because the journey starts here.




People crowded to listen to The Coup; Photo Credit: Youth Speaks

People crowded to listen to The Coup; Photo Credit: Youth Speaks


Oakland – On October 8, the 9th annual Life is Living Festival was full of celebrations, activities, and food for community members and welcomed visitors.

The theme of the festival “life is living” was chosen to remember the birth of the Black Panther Party at DeFremery Park, where this event was held.

The day started of with a free vegan breakfast. The breakfast consisted of collard greens, grits, and tofu scramble.

Life is Living Festival also held vendors selling various merchandise.Vendors sold arts, hygiene products, and food.

The festival was centered around youth. Therefore, youth could participate in multiple activities such as, open mics, and performances of dances and songs. Among many events scheduled there were african dance sessions from the various countries and cultures of Africa.    Another notable event was Theatre in the Park. Theatre in the Park consisted of spoken words, plays, and other performances.

To top it off, The Coup, a native Oakland band set the stage on fire with their performance in the evening.

People looking at the various vendors; Photo Credit: Youth Speaks

People looking at the various vendors; Photo Credit: Youth Speaks


African dance session in action; Photo credit: Youth Speaks

African dance session in action; Photo credit: Youth Speaks


Group of young performers; Photo credit; Youth Speaks

Group of young performers; Photo credit: Youth Speaks


third party politics

Akshara Majjiga

          When I visited Guatemala this summer to volunteer, though I spent only two weeks, I could name at least five of their political parties. Their logos were spray painted in tunnels, on houses, and even on top of each other in a bizarre attempt to show loyalty to one party over the other. While graffiti on the wall may not be a viable option in the United States, while looking at these slogans, I was surprised to realize that when I thought about American politics, I only really thought about two parties.

          This election season in particular, there has been significantly mixed reactions to who we consider “the two presidential candidates.” There have been instances where casting a vote for one was considered equivalent to a vote against the other, a lesser of two evils situation that should not occur when deciding who will run our country for the next four or more years. And, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson have been receiving more attention this year than they might have in the past, it calls to question whether third party candidates may really stand a chance.

          We have heard it multiple times this election season: our voting system is flawed. 48 out of our 50 states function on a winner take all system for the electoral college, making it virtually impossible for third party candidates to get a single electoral vote in any of these states. The other two states, Maine and Nebraska allot their votes proportionally.

          And, at the same time, living in the middle of California, one of the bluest states on the map, will one vote for third party make a difference? Likely not. But, with that being said, when you cast a vote for president, that vote should be for who you believe will be the best person to run our country. Third party or not, flawed or not: voting for the presidential election is our chance to exercise our rights.

          And, maybe instead of focusing so much on the presidential election, you can focus on making an informed decision on your ballot propositions, which are just as important, if not more!

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

– Vince Lombardi