Megan Farley
News Editor

The mountain of Best Speaker golden gavels won by Newport Harbor in it’s decade of dominance in Junior Statesmen of America political activities are acknowledgements and awards for the enthusiasm and talent we’ve shown for arguing, debunking, challenging and winning debates. JSA is the largest student-run organization in the country offering a program of political debate, education, and social activities to high school students. Newport Harbor, one of the largest chapters, has roughly seventy members and is actively represented by at least twenty students per convention lead by faculty advisor Ms. Michelle Lee and joined at this year’s conventions by Principal Michael Vossen.

Over 700 students representing high schools from across Southern California attended Winter Congress 2013 in Torrance, California. The Junior State ran through an expedited mock-Congress; arguing, amending, and passing legislation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

An element unique to Winter Congress is the mock political party representation of the Republican, Democratic, Green, Libertarian, and Socialist parties. Students, upon arriving at the conference, were assigned to either the House or the Senate and now chose which political party to follow. Participants split into their parties and houses to attend committee hearings and propose amendments to student-created legislation. Proposed laws were passed or killed. Full sessions of the House and Senate met to vote on bills that had survived committee.

Successes and failures were announced and “best speakers” were voted on. Buchanan won a Best Speaker Gavel for a speech against a bill to limit college and employer access to applicants’ Facebook profiles. He persuaded an audience that employers and colleges deserved to conduct research into an applicant’s personal activities beyond what appears on a resume or in an interview.  Buchanan along with other Harbor students Fox (Vice-President), Geehr, Stevens, Tarazevits, te Velde, Wilson, and myself debated and participated in amending, presenting, and generating bills.

It’s empowering to be part of a political group expressing ideas and concerns with a clear willingness to be active. As President of our school’s chapter, a member of State Cabinet, and the Editor-in-Chief of the state newspaper, I’m proud of my leadership role and our student’s enthusiasm in an organization that successfully inspires tomorrow’s leaders. Our chapter motto, “Politics is not a spectator sport”, reminds us that it is important and empowering for all citizens to be part of the political process. The next JSA event will be Spring State (April 19, 20, 21) and follows a classic debate style forum and JSA meetings are every week on Wednesdays in Ms. Lee’s Room 164 in lower Beek.

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