Bergen County Academies’ potluck dinner promotes civic awareness

HACKENSACK — The Bergen County Academies Junior State of America (JSA) Chapter held a State of the Union watch party and potluck dinner on Jan. 28 to give students and parents a platform to discuss political and social issues in a moderated environment.

Bergen County Academies Junior State of America Chapter members and their relatives participated in a State of the Union watch party and potluck dinner on Jan. 28. The event gave participants the opportunity to hold debates and discussions, of a political nature, in a moderated environment.


This is the fifth annual State of the Union Watch Party event, according to Bergen County Academies social studies teacher and JSA advisor Scott Demeter, organized by the student body. William Madden, another teacher at Bergen County Academies, also assisted in organizing the event.

Demeter contends that the event fosters civic awareness among attendees.

“The event is really great,” he said. “It is student-run and it allows students to develop skills in organization, promoting large-scale events, and networking…it’s a great forum for discussions. Not necessarily discussions that are normally held.”

The event, which took place on Jan. 28, included 40 participants — among them club members, parents and neighboring chapters.

JSA is a non-profit, non-partisan national debate society, according to Demeter.

The JSA program today has had more than 500,000 participants from across the country and the world, and educates young people on the merits, opportunities, challenges and responsibilities of leadership in a democratic society.

Though the event featured a potluck dinner, according to Demeter, those present took part in moderated discussions — open-style debates with moderators allowing those participating to speak at least once.

According to Demeter, events like the watch party allow for creating communication between members of the community while providing students with “an added opportunity for a higher level of thinking.”

Ryan Seffinger, a student at Bergen County Academies and chief of staff and state assembly representative for the school’s JSA chapter, said that the event allowed parents to share their political views while learning those of their children.

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