BY ALLISON LAUTERBACH ‘01
The Buckley chapter of Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) won 10 best speaker gavels at the November 21-22 JSA fall State at the LAX Gateway Sheraton, the most gavels of the 75 schools present. Buckley, through the smallest school attending, had the third largest delegation present: 34 people out of the 800-person convention. It was Buckley’s largest delegation to date.
“We have cleaned house,” said JSA advisor and history teacher Rob Wright. “It’s intellectual warfare.”
Senior Shalin Mantri won three gavels, one for his subsequent speech on degree requirements for teachers, and two for his main speeches on the national debt and minimum wage. Senior Adam Schwem won two gavels, one for his subsequent speech on tobacco advertising and one for his impromptu speech. German exchange student junior Johann Fleisch earned two gavels for his subsequent speeches on sequent speeches on foreign aid and the importance of society versus the individual. Junior Casey Cohen and Vince Kapur each won a gavel, Cohen for his subsequent speech on teaching ethics and Kapur for his on recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign nation. Junior Allison Lauterbach won a gavel for her debate on presidential term limits. Overall, Schwem has won a total of seven gavels, Mantri has won four, and Lauterbach has earned two in each of their JSA careers.
“I found it thrilled to speak. The feelings of getting up and going to the podium and delivering a speech on an issued you are concerned with is fascinating,” said Fleisch.
“We are smart cookies,” said Kapur.
The convention was the fourth straight in which the Buckley chapter received the most awards. “The end is always anti-climactic. I can see all the success after each debate block. When we get the gavels at the end it validates our success yet the great moments happened prior to the closing ceremony,” said Wright.
In preparation for the convention, the chapter debates several of the topics on the convention resolution lists. Also, those who sign up for a main debate in advance begin research several weeks prior to the convention, often meeting with Wright and Schwem to work on delivery technique and organization.
“We know what it takes to succeed in debate: intellectual maturity, teamwork, charisma, and an irresistible drive to be the best and nothing less,” said Cohen.
Buckley’s chapter emphasizes unity. “Sticking together was the key to our success,” said junior Matt Waymost. “We worked together as a team and in the end were really successful. No matter what personal feelings we have towards each other, when we get to the debate we always support each other,” said Abrams.
The convention consisted of 31 main debates, as well as various ‘thought talks’ or discussion groups, speakers’ activities, and impromptu speech contests. More than 85 percent of Buckley delegations participated in the main debates.