At Junior State conventions students engage in a variety of activities, including debates, student-led thought talks, mock trials and other simulations which critically examine the political landscape. Students learn about today’s important issues and have the unique opportunity to express their opinions and challenge the opinions of others in a tolerant, supportive atmosphere. Delegates raise the level of political discourse with their thoughtful, yet often controversial, remarks. Politically engaged and interested students from diverse backgrounds share their perspectives, learn from each other and have fun as they discuss, debate and socialize together.
Preparing for Congress
The Junior State has produced a booklet entitled Preparing for Congress which covers the procedures and rules of Congress 2013 in detail as well as providing suggestions for getting you and your delegation ready for an enriching weekend.
Download Preparing for Congress!
Serve as a Member of Congress
Can you protect your bill from amendments that might lessen its impact? Should you compromise in order to gain support or should you hold and try to persuade others that you bill is perfect as is? Members of Congress face such questions every day…now it’s your turn. At Congress 2013, you will experience the inner workings of the U.S. Congress firsthand. Each delegate serves as either a Senator of a Member of the House of Representatives
Students’ participation in Congress 2013 begins before the convention starts as students work in teams to research and write legislation. Students select an issue that they really care about and determine how Congress can use its powers to have an effect on the issue.
Committee Action and Mark-up
At the convention, students are assigned to committees where all the legislation is discussed and marked up. Amendments are made and language is clarified while the students learn the art of compromise to earn the committee votes needed to send their legislation the floor of the House or Senate.
Public speaking skills are emphasized as the sponsors of the legislation that passed in committee take the podium in the full House and Senate sessions. The chambers are always packed as supporters and opponents of each bill get a chance to speak and persuade the members to support their position. Students will have the chance to speak out on the most pressing issues that face our nation today.
Each convention starts with an opening session where all participants gather for welcoming remarks and announcements from the high school student leaders who planned the convention. In addition, the conventions feature keynote speeches from prominent policymakers who not only present their viewpoints to the delegates, but also interact with the audiences during question and answer sessions. At the end of the convention, debate results are announced and awards are presented in front of all the delegates at the closing session.
Thought talks are student-led discussions on pressing issues or questions. A moderator will guide delegates by posing questions regarding the topic giving student in the audience an open opportunity to express their thoughts. No main speakers are chosen for thought talks. The less structured format allows students to freely explore many facets of the topic being discussed. Students looking for a non-competitive atmosphere and an open discussion on complicated issues find thought talks to be the most engaging activities that the Junior State offers.
Many conventions feature Political Fairs that enable students to meet representatives of lobbying and political groups and get to ask questions regarding their policies and views. In recent years, our Political Fairs have included groups like the National Rifle Association & Handgun Control Inc., NARAL Pro-Choice America & the National Right to Life Organization, the Republican, Democratic, Green, Libertarian and other political parties.
Junior State conventions combine the stimulation of intense political dialogue with some activities that are just plain FUN. Students also get a chance get to relax through less formal settings including dances, quiz bowls, talent shows, political ‘pictionary’ and other evening activities. Students get to meet others with similar interests and diverse talents. The chance to meet and mingle with the student leaders of today and tomorrow is unparalleled.