Vikings venture to Santa Clara for JSA Spring States


Karina Gulati and Nidhi Chirayath, pictured above, hold trophies, depicting their victory in the JSA Spring States competition.

Atira Nair, Staff Writer

Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) team members assembled in the Santa Clara Marriott for the JSA Spring State Convention on April 22. Irvington’s JSA division brought along 9 of its Vikings to compete against around 300 JSA members from Northern California high schools. Despite being a relatively small club, JSA members competed against high school students from all over Northern California.

JSA, a student-run organization, encourages high school students to learn about government and politics by hosting debates, speeches, and events where members discuss and debate political opinions. In the competition, students picked a topic relating to politics prior to the competition, researched it thoroughly, and argue their standpoint in a room of around 50 people during the competition. The topics ranged from immigration to democracy to social media. The debates, based on society and government, encouraged Junior Statesmen to learn more about American democracy and government and how it affects the lives of the public. Rather than having a panel of judges, JSA members watch the debate and vote for the best speaker, which keeps JSA a student-run organization.

Nidhi Chirayath (11) explains that “It’s always a little scary, but the feeling that you get after you make your speech is exhilarating!”

In Irvington’s division, President Karina Gulati (11) was elected for first place in both of her debates. Gulati’s first debate featured the prompt and opinion: Democratic Governments support the values of the people. Her second debate was on the viewpoint: America does not have an imperative to limit immigration from countries that are known to harbor terrorists.

“It feels amazing to speak in front of crowds, so I really enjoyed it!” said President Karina Gulati. “I feel grateful and really honored to be elected by the other JSA members who voted for me.”

In addition, students voted for elected officials of JSA who will hold positions such as Governor, Mayor, and other titles. Members voted Nidhi Chirayath as Vice-Mayor of the East Bay Division of Norcal.

Outside of speaking at and preparing for debates, JSA members had the chance to go to a Black Light Dance, Karaoke Night, and chapter bonding.

“JSA Spring States was one of the highlights of my high school career! I absolutely love meeting new people and bonding with my amazing Irvington JSA members,” said Gulati. “From the debates to even all of the dances and karaoke nights, every moment was memorable.”