The Rivers Debate Club attended its first conference of the year on October 14, convening at Harvard University for the New England Region Activism Day alongside Debate Clubs and Junior State of America (JSA) chapters from all over New England.
The JSA holds several one-day conferences each year that are run by college students and focus on topics that resonate with young people and mimic the structure of JSA’s signature overnight conferences that take place later in the year. Rivers’ cohort of six junior statesmen and stateswomen chose to debate on the topics of climate change reform and tax reform.
Olivia Xu ’20 took the “pro” stance on climate change reform against the JSA Chapter from Wellesley High School. Joe Nedder ’18 followed up as the subsequent speaker, also taking the pro side of the debate.
Later in the day, Harrison Pearlson ’18 took on the role of subsequent speaker on the topic of decreasing regulation in the context of economic reform. For his part in arguing this case, Harrison was recognized with a Best Speaker Award, an incredibly rare honor for subsequent speakers.
“As a subsequent speaker, we don’t get the same opportunity to prepare our arguments ahead of the conference,” said Harrison, who is also the Debate Club’s president. “Fortunately, I had done a project in my Economics class earlier this year so I was able to draw on that work to make my case.”
The six students who attended the conference with faculty advisor Feryal Sacristan were Emily Shen ’18, Joe Nedder, Harrison Pearlson, Nathalie Hall ’19, Soobin Lee ’20, and Olivia Xu.
The JSA’s mission is to “strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society.” They hold several overnight conferences throughout the year, namely the Fall State conference in Boston and Winter Congress conference held in Washington, D.C.