Never Talk Politics, Except at JSA


Photo by: James Schaap

JSA members campaign for Ami Hayashi, junior at Cam High, in her run for speaker of the assembly for the Spring Conference. Hayashi won and Alexis Kallen, senior, was voted states person of the year.

Cam High students took home a number of honors from the recent JSA Spring State conference in Anaheim last month. Ami Hayashi, junior, obtained the title of speaker of the assembly, the third highest rank for JSA members from the Southern California region and Alexis Kallen, senior and a four-year member of JSA received the award for states person of the year at the conference.

JSA is a national organization and is recognized at Cam High as a student-run club where members participate in a mock California government system and are expected to campaign and debate their positions and ideas.

“The main goal of JSA is to combat political apathy in teams and promote civic activism”, said Hayashi. She declared her candidacy in February and throughout the season has been attending weekend conventions at other high schools to further progress her campaign.

JSA is only one of several programs in which Hiyashi actively participates including Save Our Sea Life Club, National Honor Society, California Scholarship Federation, and Cam High’s track team. “You have to be dedicated to everything you do and you have to be passionate,” said Hayashi. “Not only to complete everything but to excel, and I’m a passionate individual.”

Hayashi currently carries the title of expansion director where she dedicates five to seven hours a week to the creation of JSA chapters in southern California. Along with two other members, she is responsible for the creation of over 37 chapters in southern California, each of whom pays a “tax” or fee to be included. The chapters are all at schools that must have a minimum of eight delegates in order to participate.

Over 900 delegates attended the Spring State conference in Anaheim. Among other things, the delegates use these conferences as opportunities to campaign as well as debate political topics. The debate styles at the conferences vary from speed chess debate to artivism, a method in which the delegates use any type of art to further prove their points.

“It’s surreal, JSA has meant the world to me and it was cool to be recognized,” said Kallen.

Kallen serves on the executive state cabinet where she runs her own department under the head of the state for JSA. Her job puts her in a position to coordinate all the debates including the ones at their most recent convention. Kallen will be attending Stanford and majoring in political science after being influenced by JSA for so long.

At the Spring State Convention, students get the opportunity to vote for the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the assembly of JSA. “All the chapters and members actually get to vote,” said Shawn Near, adviser for JSA. “It encourages political awareness.”

“My primary objective is to act as a liaison between the organization and the administration here on campus,” said Near. “The kids do a lot of this themselves. Those in leadership roles in JSA take the responsibility of running the meetings and organizing plans to attend weekend conventions.”

Members of JSA are given the opportunity to take on more responsibility and “climb the ladder” so long as they continue pursuing an interest in the organization and strive to achieve a larger goal.

“I learned to stand up for what I believe in,” said Kallen. “I can use my voice to speak up and change minds.”