During this summer I went to Georgetown University for an international relations program run by an organization called “Junior States of America” (JSA). During the summer program, I took a course in International Relations by a professor at the University of Warsaw and participated in daily debates. I learned the foundation of our nation’s politics and gained a more cultured perspective of the world. Furthermore, I created strong connections with my peers and made friendships that will certainly last a lifetime.
Besides offering such an illustrious summer program, Junior States of America (Junior States) also has worldwide chapters that are designed to help all students learn how to convey their personal beliefs, not those of their parents, in an efficient manner and have a fun time in the process. The mission of the Junior States of America, the largest student run organization in the nation, is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for lifelong involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society. This club will allow peers to voice their opinions regarding relevant issues, such as affirmative action, in a welcoming environment through debates and thought talk.
After attending the summer program, I realized the gap in the High School West clubs and activities. There is currently not a single club that addresses this significant and relevant topic at High School West. In an age where less than five percent of teenagers in America actually read the newspaper, it is critical to inform the students of Half Hollow Hills High School West of the momentous issues impacting the world in this quickly evolving day and age. Another issue that is not being addressed at Hills West is the need for a public speaking club that allows all members to participate. We have a great variety of clubs, with many pertaining to music, religion, quiz bowl, science, and languages. However, there are no clubs at West that pertain to public speaking in a political setting. While there are a few clubs that help promote public speaking, these clubs do not give all of its members a chance to participate in competitions.
Unlike any other club, Junior States chapters allow all of its members to actually take part in competitions and benefit from them in a variety of ways. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about three out of every four people suffer from anxiety when speaking publicly. Consequently, another goal of ours is to also minimize the fear of public speaking within our school so that our fellow classmates can develop a greater confidence in their speaking abilities, which will become ever so important to them in their futures with job interviews, presentations, meetings, and in their professions overall.
There are three Junior States conventions each school year, and during these conventions, members will go on an overnight trip to the convention sites, meet and compete with politically passionate peers, and will propose bills to pass to the Junior State Congress. These conventions are designed to help students cultivate democratic leadership skills, challenge one another to think critically, advocate their own opinions, develop respect for opposing views, and learn to rise above self-interest to promote the public good. I am currently in the process of trying to start a Junior States Chapter at West, but it is currently pending administrative approval. Overall, I hope to have Junior States off and running in the near future so you can all experience the unforgettably amazing time that I shared with this prominent organization.