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Kofa JSA program builds strong leaders by encouraging open debate

JSA group picture Kofa High School’s Junior State of America (JSA) program has been one of the school’s most successful programs for nearly a decade.

Students participate in mock debates, political campaigns, and community service in a unique program that prepares and equips them to be thoughtful and community-minded leaders.

"JSA helps people understand how to speak their mind in a confident and respectful way," said JSA member and Kofa student Mack Schwitzing.

The Kofa Chapter’s busy fall culminated with success at the 2019 JSA-AZ Fall State Convention in Tucson where they were the largest chapter present and took home two awards for best speaker. When asked about the club, student Daniel Resendez said, “Kofa JSA has been going really well this year. We have already been involved in multiple volunteering opportunities and our yearly conventions like Fall State. I can already see a bright future for our club into the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year and beyond.”

Under the guidance of JSA advisor Marc Osborn, the program has increased its community involvement over the last few years, partnering with local organizations like Crossroads Mission, Kohl’s Childspree, and Old Souls Animal Rescue. They have also worked voter registration drives this year.

"I feel that our Kofa JSA program is off to a good start this year,” Osborn said. “We have many members who are very active and dedicated to the club. It can be a very time intensive organization, so it is always a pleasant surprise to see how dedicated and committed our members can be. All of this dedication benefits our community, as we are usually doing some kind of outreach activity on any given week of the school year."

No matter what side of the political argument you tend to fall on, JSA’s goal is to empower young leaders and get everyone talking and involved.

"My favorite part of being involved with JSA is seeing students come to life,” Osborn added. “We all know those kids that tend to hide in the background during social events, or the awkward ones that seem to struggle. The great thing about JSA is that those kids, with enough comfort and support, blossom into well-spoken and confident debaters, and that is always rewarding to see."

Kofa senior Oscar Ferguson, whose brother, Ralph, was also a JSA member, said, “Overall, I feel like Kofa JSA embodies freedom of expression and conveying all viewpoints on a broad spectrum of political ideologies. Kofa JSA is very open towards all different viewpoints and encourages new students to open up and speak their mind out. This is definitely the place to keep current on events affecting our world today and make new friends.”

Kofa’s JSA program meets each Thursday from 3-4 p.m.

Ian Coltman