The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

Bellaire students elected to “Big Three” governing positions in Texas Junior State of America

Junior Feifan Liu delivers his candidacy speech as his supporters hold campaign signs. His FART platform focused on fundraising, activism, regionalism and transparency.

Junior Feifan Liu was inaugurated as Texas Junior State of America Governor for the 2024-2025 before a crowd of 175 people and 15 schools at the JSA Spring State Convention form April 6-7. This year, Bellaire students secured all of the “Big Three” positions of Texas JSA with juniors Emerald Tang and Andy Shen being elected to Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House, respectively.

Liu remembers feeling “nervous and discouraged” the Saturday night before poll results were announced, and even now, he still feels anxious about being Texas JSA Governor.

“Even though I won, I am not super happy about it because I know that the expectations are a lot to live up to, and I’m kind of worried about how I’ll perform,” Liu said. “I know [the other candidates] wanted to win, and I think that will push me more because I want to do the very best I can in order to make them feel like [I] was like the right choice.”

In addition to state-wide positions, regional elections were held at Spring State. Sophomore Luca Cheng ran against three other candidates for the Gulf Coast Region Mayor and emerged victorious.

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“It’s just so great being [in JSA],” Cheng said. “I have a lot more connections now, [such as] people from Carnegie, and I’ve grown [to understand] JSA as a political community because [they have] guest speakers from the district and people that were involved in politics.”

Cheng’s favorite Spring State activity was the Debate Blocks where JSA members debate on issues ranging from current events like Palestinian liberation to satirical topics like the benefits of the Clash Royale laughing emoji.

“I get to see a lot more diverse aspects or views to political views,” Cheng said. “Bellaire is diverse, but my friend group isn’t always going to be [politically] spread out. [I can] come [to JSA] and see everyone’s views and see how everyone talks openly about their views without facing discrimination or hate. It’s just really welcoming because you just get to express yourself.”

The Bellaire JSA chapter has historically been very involved in Texas JSA with many students attending conventions and participating in leadership roles. Club sponsor Ashley McDonald has acknowledged that this year’s Spring State has been no different.

“It seems like everyone’s having a good time,” McDonald said. “Some students have [been named] best speaker, and I think we had quite a few people advance in the Debate Dash. [One student] told me that she met a student [who practices] a different religion from her and she’s learned a lot. Some students have gone into state level leadership positions or just [leadership] positions in general.”

As Governor of Texas JSA next year, Liu wants to continue to lead JSA to inspire students by emulating qualities that this year’s Governor BASIS Shavano senior Tiziano “Tez” Pardo displayed.

“I have a lot of respect for [Tez],” Liu said. “It kind of sucks knowing that he won’t be there and that there won’t be someone above me to tell me what to do. But knowing that, I want to try and be what Tez was to me and uplift other people.”

Pardo oversaw administrative duties for Spring State as JSA Governor and Council of Governor. board representative, and he hopes that under the new Bellaire leadership, JSA reaches new heights.

“Bellaire has always been a stronger chapter within JSA,” Pardo said. “You can see their strength in terms of the leadership that Emerald, Andy, and Feifan demonstrated throughout the convention. They were always on top of whatever I needed them to do within their respective departments. That really shines throughout the convention experience.”

Pardo hopes that regardless of what changes the new Big Three make, JSA will still retain its foundational principles.

“JSA is really a family to me,” Pardo said. “A large misconception with JSA is that you have to be politically geared or politically minded, and you’re just here for the politics of it. Within my experience throughout JSA, I’ve changed my mind in terms of what structurally composes our organization. Fundamentally, we’re here to improve civic engagement. JSA, to me, boils down to people collectively organizing together to better educate ourselves.”

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