The Mount Junior State of America chapter attended their Winter Congress in Arlington, VA from February 24 to 26.
“Our students experienced a congressional simulation, they wrote and debated bills in committee. In addition to bill writing, participants explored avenues for change, including service, community building, and equity,” said Joanne Cadigan-Peters, Social Studies Department Chair and the JSA Moderator. “My chapter received a grant from the Amanda Rose Laura Foundation to attend this convention. We are extremely grateful for their generosity.”
Victoria Fekete '24 said, “I had a wonderful experience at this year’s JSA Winter Congress, and I was so grateful to have been able to travel to Arlington and debate with inquisitive, passionate young people from across the East coast and abroad. I was a member of the 'House of Representatives,' and in my committee, I got to hear a variety of perspectives that broadened my view on topics like consumer safety, our healthcare system, and even the importance of hugging. I felt inspired by the people around me to speak on some of these bills as well, and it was such an open environment to ask questions and really get into these topics with everyone."
"Along with debating, we got to learn about how to solve issues in our communities and how to start activism initiatives of our own, and I loved brainstorming with other students on ways to we can tangibly make change. Finally, getting to meet up with friends from other chapters across the Mid-Atlantic State Region, participate in group-wide “nighttime activities” like karaoke, and explore the nearby town with my chapter members and friends was a meaningful way for me to build connections with my like-minded peers, become closer with my friends, and even interact with those who I differ from," she added.
"I truly want to thank the Amanda Rose Laura Foundation for granting us the opportunity to go on this trip," said Victoria. "Without your grant, my team and I would have not been able to have these fun and intellectual discussions, exercise our public speaking skills, and create bonds with those in our generation who, like us, hope to make lasting change in our world. We really appreciate your generosity.”
Madison DeFrancisco '25 added, "Attending the Winter Congress was a valuable and unforgettable experience. I was involved in the debate and voting on of various bills. During my experience, I learned the importance of properly presenting an idea, because even a bill written with the best intentions may not be received well if the wording is unclear or if the perspective of the audience is not considered. I also submitted my own amendment that focused on improving working conditions for prisoners by closing the 13th Amendment loophole and granting incarcerated workers the same workplace protections that all other workers in the U.S. are guaranteed. I spoke as a senator and sponsor of my amendment and answered questions. My amendment gained overwhelming support and passed by over 2/3 approval in both the Senate and the House."
She concluded, "Overall, the JSA Winter Congress was an enriching opportunity that has benefitted me in many ways. Thank you to the Amanda Rose Laura Foundation who made my chapter’s attendance at the Winter Congress possible.”