Sunday, April 21, 2013

JSA - The Guts and the Glory

My high school students participate in this national debate and civics organization - The Junior Statesman Association. For over 5 years I have been driving them and many other teens to conventions and congresses, beginning with John, when he was in 8th-9th grade.   Nora has also participated for 4 years and now Andy does it too!  Exhausting?  Yes. And, I would not miss it for the world.

I have seen kids get up to debate who never thought they could do it. Since kids participate from multiple NJ high schools, I do get to see them grow from freshmen to seniors.  What a privilege it is to be able to quietly catalogue a young adult's progress on the "JSA stage".

This weekend alone I saw a home schooled, novice, first-time debater win a best speaker gavel, a home school teen earn a prestigious, elected cabinet position (making history in the national JSA organization - congratulations Angela!) and a deserving Lt Gov race turn out well!  The most inspiring part, however, is watching those who did not win - those who tried but did not get the position they wanted.  They show grace and poise and wisdom well beyond their years.

Anyone who thinks that debate club is NOT a full-contact sport - think again.  These kids are in it to win it and they give it their all.  Bravery?  I can't believe how much courage they demonstrate, gutting it out to the end.

The life lessons in JSA can never be tallied up.  In fact, they are infinite.

Every time I get ready to head out to a hotel for 2 or 3 days with a pile of teenagers, I think to myself ...."Why am I doing this?  It so hard."  But then I look at what the teens are doing at these conventions ....and, frankly, I am humbled.  Plus .... I always have so much fun!!

This is a pic of Nora with the Mid Atlantic Region Lt Gov Cole Aronson, and Chief of Staff Allison Berger. Nora is Director of Financail Aid on the Lt Gov cabinet and she's had such an exciting year working with these outstanding statesmen !!