Everything You Need to Know About Skyline’s JSA Debate Club


Deena Qannan, Forum Writer

Students walking by room 2416 on Fridays will hear gavel banging and energetic back and forth between students. While this may seem like a loud commotion and shouting, it’s a well-organized light-hearted JSA Debate Club meeting.

Skyline High School’s Junior State of America Debate Club is welcoming students interested in building their public speaking skills. From collaborating and discussing with peers, Debate is an engaging club for all levels.

Junior State of America , JSA, has been an active club at Skyline since 1997, Skyline’s first opening. JSA Debate has around 40-50 members on their roster. However, the club had to work hard to build up its attendance.

Senior Adarsh Thallikar, JSA Debate Club President has been a part of JSA since his freshman year. Before Covid, there was great attendance from students with around 60 people on the roster.

When Covid came around during the Spring of 2020, Thallikars freshmen year, there were no meetings. That’s when they resorted to online club meetings.

“It’s really difficult to keep people engaged when you’re just doing online debates,” says Thallikar. “Towards the end [of the school year] we lost quite a few people and it was very difficult to get a larger attendance after that.”

Outreach campaigns at Pine Lake Middle School and making a presence at the yearly club fairs gained JSA more members by the time school went back in person.

The club is a part of two organizations, JSA, Junior State of America, and Debate Team. The Debate Team consists of a few students from JSA that are looking for a competitive debating environment. 

JSA is a nationwide student-led politics made to encourage high schoolers to get involved; JSA debates are held at different schools, but they also hold larger conventions with schools from across Washington, Oregon and Idaho for Skyline’s JSA. Skyline High participates in the Northwestern JSA.

Just two weeks ago, Skyline’s JSA participated in the 2022 Pacific Northwest Fall State Convention where a few of Skyline’s debate club members won Best Speaker gavels.

Debate club may sound like a serious club that students need to commit to, but typical meetings are filled with humorous topics to discuss, gavels pounding desks and babbling between friends. 

For the first 45 minutes, Adarsh Thallikar, president, and Daisy Hu, secretary, kick off the meeting by taking volunteers either for or against the topic that a member of the club suggested beforehand. The second half is focused on the Debate Team and lessons that students can use to improve their speaking and debate skills.

The topics are simple and casual, says Thallikar. So, members don’t need to prepare in advance. Depending on the week there may be political topics, but the intensity is toned down.

Everyone is welcome to join Debate. “We are here for all debate skill levels,” says Thallikar. “Feel free to join for a casual environment where you can get your voice heard.”

Currently, Heidi Hendrickson, the Registrar at SHS, oversees the club. Check out Skyline’s JSA website for more information.