Speaking to be heard: JSA members discuss passion for politics

Alexis Harris, Staff Writer

     They have faith in the red, white and blue. To them, elephants and donkeys are not simply zoo animals.  Politics are as enticing as their favorite sitcom. Whether they are arguing Obama versus Romney or helping Student Council prepare for voter registration, the ideas they shout across the room fuel their drive.

     JSA, or Junior Statesman of America, is the largest student-run organization in the United States. But it has not flourished as well at Plano. In meetings, they might discuss presidential debates or political issues, and students get the opportunity to share their own thoughts on current events. Senior Christina Qiu started the chapter at Plano last year. After being in Jasper’s chapter and attending a JSA convention in Austin, she recognized the unity of it.

     “It is similar to debate, but it does not have as many rules,” Qiu said.  “It is more open. It’s really about getting students involved who care about politics so they can come together to discuss current events or school-wide issues and how they affect students.”

     Before entering her senior year, Qiu passed down the position of president to incoming junior Ximei Li. 

     “I think she is a really competent person,” Qiu said. “She is very organized and has a schedule. I totally relate with her.  Coming into Plano last year I felt a lot of the same things she’s going through right now. Jasper is a completely different environment – kids stay after school a lot more since less people drove. Now at Plano, it’s a huge campus – you have to cater toward a much larger student body. You have to work with StuCo and all these other clubs in order to feel like more of a part of the school. I think right now that’s something she needs to grasp a little bit better in order to be a better leader. I think she has a really good attitude, so we work through things together a lot.”

     Li believes it requires time and effort from the leader to foster enthusiasm for JSA. Since there is no PA system, announcements throughout the school take more time to relay. Li has to work with administration and scheduling to get a large group of students together. But that’s what JSA is all about: bringing a large group of opinionated students together. 

     “I joined my freshman year,” Li said. “I saw it as a club where anybody is allowed to come and state their viewpoints. I saw it as a better way to be exposed to other ideas out there and meet new people.”