After a banner year for CSW’s Junior State of America (JSA) chapter, two student leaders are being recognized for their efforts. Founded in 1934, JSA is an American, non-partisan youth organization meant to equip high school students with the leadership and knowledge necessary to be effective debaters and civic participants.
Senior Julian Applebaum, who served as the group’s leader this year, was named JSA Statesman of the Year at Spring State 2019. Statesman of the Year is awarded each year to notable leaders in the organization who embody the values in the JSA motto, “Be the People,” and demonstrate extraordinary leadership and service to their communities. The JSA Foundation describes this as an “award [that] acknowledges not only the personal qualities of the individual student but also their hard work and commitment to JSA and its principles.”
In addition to his role as leader of CSW’s chapter, Julian served as director of activism for JSA Northeast this year, working to coordinate initiatives for all of the Northeast’s 40 chapters. He can also be credited with bringing in a number of high profile speakers to JSA meetings and conventions, including the director of grassroots activism for the NRA and an immigration lawyer with vast experience at the US-Mexico border. He says it’s very important to him, and other members of JSA, to stay informed and listen to people with experiences different from their own, and kept this in mind when choosing presenters.
Under Julian’s leadership, attendance and membership in the organization has more than doubled, with an average meeting attendance of six in 2017-18 vs. fifteen in 2018-19. The group also welcomed 11 first-time conference attendees this year and has been active in its fundraising efforts to make conference attendance accessible to a wider number of participants.
“I’m proud of a lot of things,” Julian shares, “But the most rewarding part for me has been seeing other members of our chapter come out of their shells… To think this club could cultivate an interest in politics and grow a sense of confidence in students that could set a trajectory for their lives is an amazing thing to think about and an amazing feeling.”
The group has also led a number of on-campus events this year, including an all-school presentation on the 2018 Massachusetts Ballot Questions and a letter-writing campaign for Indigenous People’s Day. They also initiated “Global Citizenship Week” at CSW, which included an informative community conversation about why global citizenship matters, what it looks like, and which topics community members might want to involve themselves in, providing examples such as Brexit, elections in Israel, and political turmoil in Venezuela.
All of this exciting work culminated in the CSW chapter being named Runners Up in the campaign for JSA’s National Chapter of the Year, in addition to Junior William Feng being elected as Lieutenant Governor of JSA’s Northeast State, the second-highest leadership position in the organization. William’s election came about following a hard-fought, grassroots campaign, complete with speeches, social media hype
, and a call to join the “Feng Gang.”
“William was running against two other people, both of whom had been on the cabinet before,” Julian explains. “No one knew who we were… William won, not because he had connections, but because we worked hard and people felt like they could relate to us.”
As Lieutenant Governor, William will help lead state conferences, choose who’s on his cabinet, and have a big role in setting the vision for the upcoming year for the Northeast.
CSW congratulates Julian, William, and all of the members of our JSA chapter on a truly outstanding and inspiring year.