JSA members are gathering in state capitals and other city centers for Winter Congress, the second major convention for the school year. Winter Congress, as the name suggests, simulates the legislative process with students taking up roles as majority and minority leaders, whips, committee chairs and as members of Congress.
Even before their arrival, students have spent hours writing the bills that will be debated. Unique to JSA, Winter Congress teaches essential skills in negotiation, civil dialogue, and composite writing. This year’s convention will feature a mix of topics that reflect the issues bubbling in society. These include proposed legislation on immigration, the opioid crisis, criminal justice reform and electoral reform as well as improvements to the education system.
Winter Congress is one of JSA’s most exciting conventions. In addition to hours spent negotiating
bills on and off the floor, JSA members will also participate in an Activism Fair that hosts political parties, non-profits, and lobby groups. The Activism Fair highlights opportunities to be change agents in their community through volunteerism, voting, and engagement on social issues. Students also hear from a variety of keynote speakers that include elected officials, experts, and local advocates.
A combination of legislative writing and activism in action is a unique feature of JSA’s student-run model that is on display at Winter Congress.
For students at three of the six conventions, a main highlight is visiting the nation’s capital, Washington DC. JSA chapters make their way to DC from as far as Cleveland, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and even Honduras. JSA students and teachers make the most of their time in DC by meeting with members of Congress, touring the U.S. Capitol and White House, and visiting Smithsonian Museums and DC monuments like the Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, and MLK memorials and the Vietnam, and World War II sites.