Happy Thanksgiving! From the Patriot

Something That I’m Thankful For:

JSA. Corny I know, but its the truth. The Junior Statesman of America is not just a club, for me its a bit more. I first joined JSA in the fall of my freshman year and since then it has helped fuel a passion which never ceases to bring wonder and enjoyment. And even in the most divisive and nasty of times, JSA has always been a counterweight as a place where politics and civics are the priority. Additionally, JSA has and always will be a collection of among the greatest people on earth. At the conventions and one days, I have been hard pressed to find a person I didn’t like. The people and experiences you have within JSA are unparalleled. I like many JSA’ers am always hyped for conventions and one days and am always disappointed when they come to a close.

Being more than just a club, JSA is not something that I am taking for granted. And as we put the election behind us and move into the holiday season, always keep in mind how lucky we are to have such a place to discuss politics, meet people and become more involved in the world around us.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!
– Patrick Burland, The Patriot

NER Fall One Day: Recap

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The first New England Region event of the year, the Fall One Day, was held last Saturday at Harvard University. The One Day, titled “Beyond the Ballot”, focused upon the upcoming national election and was one of the best attended events ever held by the NER. The day began with an opening session led by NER Mayor Nate Bradley and NER Vice Mayor Lucy Clarke. After that, each attendee was able to select one of four debates to participate in during the first block which included debates over school dress codes, if the Democratic and Republican parties should be able to nominate more than one nominee for president, the benefits of medical marijuana, and a thought talk about President Obama’s legacy.

After the first debate block, the whole conference met for the keynote speaker, Massachusetts Democratic State Senator Jason Lewis. Senator Lewis described how his childhood spent in apartheid South Africa served as an inspiration for him to get involved in issues of social justice. He also explained how as an adult he felt compelled to get involved in public service after witnessing budget cuts at his daughter’s school. Senator Lewis then took many questions from JSAers ranging from his opinion on Massachusetts ballot question 4 which would legalize recreational marijuana to who his ideal Republican presidential candidate would be if he was forced to select one.

Next, the second debate block began. The debates included discussions over the merits of digitized schoolwork, if green card holders should be permitted to vote, if Donald Trump is an accurate representation of the American people, and if the UK had a right to leave the European Union. After that, it was time for lunch. Students fanned out across Harvard square and enjoyed meals ranging from hamburgers and french fries to chicken and rice. Next, it was time for the activism block. This year, the main activism initiative is about mental health. Each student filled out a survey detailing their personal experiences and knowledge with mental health issues. Next, it was debate block three. The debates were about if Hillary Clinton committed any criminal actions as Secretary of State, if the government should stop collecting metadata, if the government should censor the internet, and a thought talk about if professional athletes should be required to stand for the national anthem. After the third debate block, the entire conference met again for a mock presidential debate. After an hour long debate over a wide range of issues, Hillary Clinton emerged victorious. Then, it was time for the fourth and final debate block. The debates were about Massachusetts ballot question 2 which would expand charter schools, if the 22nd amendment should be appealed, if the electoral college should be amended, and a thought talk about if America has always been great. By 4:00, it was time for the closing session. Mayor Bradley thanked everyone for their attendance and his own cabinet for their incredible work on making the One Day so successful. It is events like the 2016 Fall One Day that support the common saying among New England JSAers, “NER, best by far.”

ECR Fall One Day: Recap

by Patrick Burland
 
The first ECR one day of the year, “Beyond the ballot” was beyond a success. Students from across the ECR convened in Stuyvesant and opened the convention with a deeply moving keynote speech from Sarri Singer, a survivor of a terror attack. Singer, who survived a bus bombing in 2003 in Israel, spoke of her experience and resolve, emphasizing the importance of combatting terrorism and how everyone plays a role in striving to reach a future without it. While the keynote speech on terror did end, the discussion of the future of our foreign policy did not. Some of the featured debates that ensued were: Resolved, that Donald Trump is the best candidate for American foreign interests, and Resolved, that the United States allow more Syrian refugees. One of the most notable things about the One Day was not the resolutions themselves, but the debaters and how they conducted themselves.

[DEBATE HIGHLIGHTS] Topics for the debates ranged from money in politics, to political correctness, to the twenty second amendment and the college admission system. Contentious resolutions brought out the most diverse ideas and passion out of each of the debaters. And no matter the topic, the emphasis on the issues was stunning. Even in polarized topics like those about Hillary Clinton’s economic agenda or Donald Trump’s foreign policy, the debate centered more on fact than fiction. In addition to the civility and focus on the issues, debates like those with regards to the election and controversial issues helped give many debaters and JSAers the opportunity to be exposed to new perspectives and arguments which are not always present in the headlines.

The debates about Donald Trump’s foreign policy and the refugee crisis drew a stark contrast with the recent presidential debates. There was little interruption, no slander and a focus on policy and principle. The one assuring thing that came out of this election season will not be about the next four years, but about the next forty. (House of cards reference) JSA has fostered a love, passion and devotion to politics and government. We may not get the leader we want this election, but what is certain, thanks to JSA, is that we will never see a shortage of viable candidates in the future.

Fall One Day Newsletter

Hello JSAers!

Congratulations on a stellar ECR One Day, and we are sure that NER One Day will be amazing as well. Here’s your Fall One Day Newsletter (in the form of a pdf) from the Patriot!

Download (PDF, 202KB)

NOTE: JSA is a nonpartisan organization. This is just one opinion from one of our writers. We will be covering a wide range of topics that will illustrate various political beliefs, and neither JSA nor The Patriot is promoting specific political parties.

Hope everyone is having a nice autumn and school is treating you all well!

Sincerely,

The Patriot Writers

Meet September Cabinet Member of the Month: Lauren Newton

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YOG: 2018

High School: Cheshire High School

Favorite JSA experience: Cabinet Retreat

Favorite movie: Good Will Hunting

Favorite book: The Cellar

Favorite food: Chocolate

How did you first get involved in JSA?

A friend of mine, Karl Meakin, wanted me to join JSA since he thought I would enjoy the debating and leadership aspects. After my first convention, which was Winter Congress my freshman year, I fell in love with JSA from the debating current political issues to the activism piece. One part that I especially enjoyed was meeting new friends throughout the Northeast who I can create lifelong relations with.

Why did you want to be NES Director of fundraising and financial aid?

The Northeast State Scholarship fund helps so many students, I personally understand what it is like to not have extra spending money and this scholarship fund allows students to have amazing experiences without a financial burden. The position I currently hold is not just fundraising, it is helping. I believed that I would be a beneficial addition to the NES cabinet, particularly the fundraising section due to my past experience in fundraising and other traits.

Can you summarize your role at JSA?

In JSA, I am one of two Directors of Fundraising and Financial Aid. Our main mission is to successfully raise money for the Northeast State scholarship fund in order to assist students into attending conventions. Within my position it is my responsibility to help all cabinet members individually raise money and also contact businesses and organizations for donations. The fundraising efforts at conventions are also a duty of mine, all of the merchandise and games at conferences is designed and set up by the Directors of Fundraising. Beyond my cabinet position I believe my role is to set an example for all JSA’ers from chapter to regional levels.

What has been your highlight of cabinet this year?

The cabinet retreat is by far the highlight of cabinet this year. I made so many new friends and was very productive in getting the JSA year off to a good start.  

What are your major goals for the year?

One of my major goals was to personally raise $1,000, not only have I already reached this goal but I have exceeded it. I can not express how grateful I am for every person who has donated to my fundraising page. Each and every person is capable of raising money for a good cause by contacting just friends and family. Another goal of mine is to promote JSA throughout my school and stand as a solid example for all JSA’ers in the northeast. Our fundraising goal is $10,000 and we are just over $1,000 away from that! Hopefully this year has even more to come.

What would be your advice to someone new to JSA?

Get involved. JSA is such an amazing organization and it is unbelievable all of the opportunities that await for students. Do not be afraid to take a chance and stand at the podium for the first time and debate, although many newcomers find it frightening it is a great way to share your opinion. It is okay to be passionate about topics and show it. Also, do not forget to have fun, everyone in JSA knows there is a time to work and a time to have fun. Meeting new people is a great start, everyone in JSA is kind and welcoming.

Westford Academy Students Go Canvassing

written by Victoria Lee
 

DISCLAIMER: NEITHER THE JUNIOR STATE OF AMERICA NOR WESTFORD ACADEMY is PROMOTING A CERTAIN POLITICAL AFFILIATION. JSA IS A NON-PARTISAN ORGANIZATION; THIS IS MERELY ONE SPECIFIC ANECDOTE TO ILLUSTRATE THE CANVASSING EXPERIENCE.

Contrary to popular belief, canvassing is not the art of making canvasses. It is actually the process of talking to a certain group of people in an area in order to get an idea of how they feel about a certain candidate/certain candidates (and may also involve convincing a person to vote for said candidate/s).

It is generally agreed on that this election is going to be a major turning point for America, and everyone is emphasizing the importance of voting, from popular social media platforms to influential public figures. With this frenzy of excitement over voting, however, this election can be a frustrating experience for those of us not old enough to vote. But no worries, there are still plenty of ways for young people to get involved in the American political process, one great option being canvassing.

On September 17th, 2016, a few excited students from Westford Academy (myself included) headed up to Nashua, NH in order to have our own canvassing experiences, organized by canvassing-regular Trisha Kagalavadi. We all gathered in the home of a volunteer from the Democratic campaign and split into pairs, each pair receiving a clipboard and a stack of brochures. A welcoming group of volunteers greeted and commended us for our dedication, inquiring us about our reasons for canvassing and encouraging us to continue pursuing our passion for civic engagement. Once we had received our supplies and settled down, Senator Bette Lasky presented us with an impassioned speech about the tremendous significance of voting, and emboldened us to be brave and convince those who are undecided to vote Democratic, emphasizing how important it was for us to be passionate and enthusiastic when speaking with residents.

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After receiving their clipboard of materials, Naqiya Motiwalla and Evelyn Chen are ready to go canvassing.

 

 

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Westford Academy students and Democratic Party volunteers take a pre-canvassing picture together. 

 

 
Following the senator’s speech, we gathered into a dining room in order to undergo a brief training, led by expert volunteer Steve Wurtzler, who is a second-grade teacher in Chelmsford, MA. Mr. Wurtzler explained the bundle of papers in our clipboard, including how to read the data sheets that listed each resident’s name, gender, age, and political affiliation. We also received a map to help us locate the specific roads we were assigned to, as well as a sheet proposing sample questions and responses we could use when conversing with the locals. Once the training was over, Mr. Wurtzler and the rest of the team wished us luck, handing us granola bars, Hillary stickers, and water bottles and reminding us to just be ourselves.

After maneuvering the map ungracefully and walking in the wrong direction for around ten minutes, Naqiya (my canvassing partner) and I finally found the first house on our list. We quickly scanned the resident’s information and walked up to the front porch, knocking on the door hesitantly and being especially careful to stand at a friendly but comfortable distance from the entrance. We held our breaths and waited around for four minutes, and finally realized that there was no one home. We awkwardly unbound the stack of brochures and tucked it into the side of the door (since it is illegal to leave them in mailboxes) and quickly headed off to the next house.

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Naqiya prepares to speak to the locals about Maggie Hassan by skimming her brochures.

This similar scenario continued to repeat itself for the most part; out of the eleven houses we got to in the forty-five minutes we had, only two people answered their doors. Most people seemed to be away from home or perhaps unwilling to answer their doors; however, the people we were fortunate enough to converse with were very amicable and understanding. Once we returned, we handed in our data sheets and were treated to some refreshments while we waited for the others to arrive. Most people collected similar results to ours: one group also reached eleven homes while another reached eighteen. In the end, everyone was a little fatigued but very content with their experiences, all of us eager to go canvassing again as soon as possible. In general, canvassing was a terrific way to spend a beautiful fall morning, as I got to contribute to the democratic process while spending time with good friends.

So if you and your politically active buddies are looking for an activity to do this weekend, try canvassing! Although the right to vote is reserved for adults only, the right to freedom of speech pertains to Americans of all ages, including youth, so I urge you to exercise your right and contribute as much as you can to the campaigns you support in order to shape your community in the way you feel it should be shaped. And if you are not a fan of conversing with strangers, there are still plenty of other volunteering opportunities out there; just contact the people involved with the campaigns in your area and they will be more than happy to have your help.

2016/2017 JSA YEAR BEGINS WITH NES CABINET RETREAT

The 2016-2017 JSA year began this weekend at the Sheraton in Stamford, Connecticut at the annual Northeast State Cabinet Retreat. It started off with a joint session with the Mid-Atlantic State, led by NES governor Kamran Parsa and MAS governor Rohan Marwaha. The retreat kicked off with a round of introductions, as cabinet members took turns stating their positions and sharing anecdotes from their summers. After an overview of the plans for the weekend, the two states split up to begin getting to work on their own individual initiatives. Governor Parsa led the NES in a discussion of statewide goals, which included increasing attendance at regional conventions and creating more chapters within the NES. After the statewide meeting, the different departments met, sharing their pre-retreat assignments and brainstorming ideas for the year. Director of logistics Elijah Pomerantz met with his fellow Convention Department, and “ spent the majority of the time discussing the JSApp and how to better utilize it. We want to integrate it more seamlessly with the conventions.” Erin Mackey and Jenny Wang, both NES Directors of Activism, summarized their own experiences of their department meetings. Wang explained: “In the Activism department, we chose themes and initiatives for the year.” Mackey added: “We also came up with different activities for each topic to do at conventions and Activism One Days.”

After the department-wide meetings, the NES reshuffled and met in their respective cabinets. Over a working lunch ranging from takeout Mexican to Domino’s pizza, everyone was able to get a jump start on the year. Governor Kamran Parsa gushed over his cabinet, commenting on how  “They were all so productive, and every single one of them worked so hard. I am incredibly proud. Gub cab truly is the best cab.”

As evening approached, the NES cabinet wrapped the first day up with a dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, and, of course, another brief work session thereafter.

The next day, following a good night’s rest, the MAS and the NES met once more, this time to discuss nationwide goals for JSA. The discussion was led by the two governors as well as  National Chief of Staff Karl Meakin and National Director of Activism Anna Prisco. The leaders discussed many goals, but overall they focused on increasing fundraising and getting even more students to attend conventions.

After an engaging day of discourse the day soon drew to a close. Everyone finished up their work and headed out to the green outside the hotel for what many considered to be the highlight of their weekend: the infamous pie-ing of Governor Kamran Parsa and Lieutenant Governor Aronno Shafi. In order to help fundraise for the JSA scholarship fund, the two NES leaders agreed to get pies thrown in their faces if the Cabinet raised enough money. Sure enough, the Cabinet met their goal and so Kamran and Aronno were each treated to a face full of whipped cream . Once the pie was cleaned off and the rest of the cabinet had stopped cracking up, it was time for a quick closing session. The two state governors thanked their cabinets for a wonderful weekend and wished everyone good luck with their goals for the year.

The Cabinet Retreat is incredibly important for starting the year off right. ECR Director of Communications Shir Levy vocalized her own thoughts, remarking on how “This weekend has been absolutely helpful in preparing for the year. Meeting everyone on cabinet was a great way for us to build stronger relationships and collaborate with each other. My goals in the communications department include keeping ties with Chapter Presidents across the state and really making a difference within their chapters. Through this, I hope to increase attendance at conventions. I’m excited to see all the Communications department and the entire Northeast State can accomplish!” Levy’s thoughts and everyone’s hard work at this year’s Retreat reflect greatly on how this coming JSA year will develop, and one can be sure that JSA is going to be bigger and better than ever.