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Local students attend congress, earn awards
Students from three local high schools recently competed in a state Junior Statesmen of America Fall Congress, where two Kofa High students were recognized for their work.
Students from Kofa, Gila Ridge and Yuma high schools learned how laws are created during a mock Congress event. They held roles as U.S. House of Representatives members and senators by writing legislation, debating in congressional committees and voting on bills.
During the two-day event at the University of Arizona, Kofa sophomore Chetan Bafna won the award of Best Speaker in a Committee Award, and Kofa senior Jose Villa won Best Speaker in the Senate Award.
Additionally, Villa was able to get his bill passed through both houses of Congress, the only student from Yuma to do so.
Jason Goodwin, Kofa JSA club sponsor and social studies teacher, said the entire event was student led and organized.
“The authors of the bills had to go through and argue and present their case for their particular bill with people speaking against them and asking questions and amending the bills as needed, just like you would have in a normal Congress committee structure,” Goodwin said.
“If it made it through both the House and Senate committees, they then would bring it to their respective floors so all the committees in the House and the Senate could hear them and debate on them. If it passed both of those, it became JSA law.”
Goodwin noted that in the past, the students' bills have been sent to the state congresses for consideration.
“It gives the kids more exposure of how politics work. It actually gives them a chance to meet kids from different backgrounds and different political ideologies and a chance to really grow and develop into young statesmen.
“Hopefully we can build on the success of this. We have another competition in March and hopefully the community can get behind these kids and help get them there because for these kids and their families, that trip was $60 to go and that's not including their food. The next trip we're going to go on is going to be more expensive.”
Goodwin said their recent Fall Congress inspired new students, including Bafna, to want to apply for summer school programs through JSA where they have the opportunity to study at Stanford, Princeton, Georgetown and the University of Virginia as well as Beijing, China.
To attend these events, however, students are required to raise about $4,500. While students are able to qualify for scholarships through the program, it covers only a small portion of the cost of the trip, he said.
To help donate for students to attend the trip next summer or to attend other JSA events, contact Goodwin at email@example.com or 502-5400. He added that as the trips get closer, students will be organizing various fundraising events.