“I just couldn’t wait to get started with this program,” said North Bergen resident Virginia Lee. “The program gives you a taste of how to plan your adult life.”
Lee, a student at High Tech High School, a county school in North Bergen, recently attended the Junior States of America (JSA) program for Princeton University’s Advanced Placement History course, a summer school program. Junior States of America sponsors Summer Institutes for politics and current issues.
Lee attended the program from July 1 to 29.
What is JSA?
JSA is the largest student-run organization in the nation, a non-profit, non-partisan group providing a forum for politics and debate. Founded over 75 years ago by high school students, the JSA program has over 500,000 participants from across the country and the world.
Lee’s school has a JSA Chapter, in which students can debate controversial issues and participate in mock trials.
At Princeton she shared a room with three other high school students from New Jersey, Chicago and California that were also in AP History. Occasionally the students took a break from their studies to attend dances and head to City Culture Day in New York.
“It’s been really difficult to raise tuition for this.” – Virginia Lee
But Lee had to raise the money to go. Tuition for the summer school programs ranges from $4,500 up to $5,500. It includes textbooks and academic expenses along with room and board.
“The balance was high, but it was worth it because the professors exceeded [my expectations],” said Lee.
JSA offers partial scholarships from a fund of more than $750,000 to help students financially with tuition. The funds are donated by summer school alumni, businesses, government institutions, and philanthropic foundations.
“It’s been really difficult to raise tuition for this,” said Lee. “It’s an experience you shouldn’t miss. I just wish it lasted longer.”
High Tech High School contributed $1,500 for Lee’s tuition. Some of the nurses she works with at Palisades Medical Center where she volunteers put in $300 to get her one step closer to her goal of AP History. She raised the majority of the money, although her parents ended up paying $800.
“I’m really thankful they paid $800 out of pocket,” said Lee. “My parents are currently unemployed and it is very hard for them to try and help me pay for tuition.”
Summer School Campus Director Jaime Contreras said at orientation that the students were special, because out of 2,000 applicants, only 40 students were chosen.
According to Lee, to qualify for the AP History program, she needed high English and history grades. Since her high school has a JSA Chapter, during the winter congress, she was interviewed for the summer program.
Lee has also taken an online AP U.S. Government and Politics course at her school.
Lee, who will be a junior this fall, intends to continue her academic education with JSA’s summer school program. She wants to take an AP Macroeconomics course in Princeton next summer. Since she already attended a JSA Summer Program she is automatically accepted for any other programs she chooses to apply for.
One crucial take away for Lee was not just learning for the test, but learning for the future.
“I’m looking forward to college,” said Lee.
She enjoys science and history and may possibly do a double major in college.
To help Lee raise tuition for next year visit her fundraising page at www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=197533.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org