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Pitman High civics club takes home prestigious state honor
Pitman civics club
Pitman High teacher Isaac Farhadian poses with this year's Pitman JSA civics club officers Tianna Karr, Fiona Sargissian, Riley Allen, Gurmat Rai and Landon Jones as they proudly accepted the Ernest A. Rogers Award on behalf of last year's winning club (Photo contributed).

Pitman High School’s Junior State of America (JSA) civics club has won the Ernest A. Rogers Award for best co-chapter in all of Northern California for the 2021-22 school year. JSA is the largest nonpartisan, student-run civics organization in the country and the award is the highest honor a chapter can earn for civic excellence. This is the second time that the Pitman chapter has won the regional award and will now turn their sights on a national award.

“I'm proud of the students and of the hard work that has been put into making the Pitman JSA club a chapter of civic excellence,” said Pitman teacher and club advisor Isaac Farhadian. “The students have been awesome."

The Ernest A. Rogers Award has five areas for judging, which are political awareness, civic engagement or activism, leadership, community service and JSA participation. Pitman’s club showcased these strengths through increased membership, achieving community service hours alongside the school’s Key Club, having members participate in mock elections relating to midterms and last year’s gubernatorial recall vote, hosting Zoom conversations with Congressman Josh Harder and State Assemblyman Heath Flora, and hosting debates with assigned topics including mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in schools, Second Amendment rights and the abolishment of the Death Penalty amongst other activities.

Last year’s Pitman JSA officers were Micah Littlepage (president), Tianna Karr (vice-president), Casandra Hernandez (secretary), Fiona Sargissian (debate coordinator) and Ravneet Brar (community service director).

Brar spoke about his experience and explained the importance of the club.

"JSA has been a lifechanging experience for me,” Brar said. “Having been a member for three years, our club has been able to host thought talks and debates on a variety of topics at our school and in our region. It has really helped to enable high school students to think more critically and advocate their opinions respectfully while also having a fun time and meeting new people.”

Karr, who is serving as this year’s club president, also reflected on her experiences upon hearing the news of their latest honor.

"JSA to me means discussing all sorts of topics that deal with what's going on in our world today and meeting new people that share the same interests about civics within the club and at our state conventions,” she said. “Getting awarded chapter of the year means that all of the hard work that this club, our former officers, and our advisor, Mr. Farhadian have put in is being recognized."

The Pitman JSA chapter was also awarded the Ernest A. Rogers Award for best chapter in 2019-2020. Farhadian expressed his appreciation for the officers of that year for setting the high standard for the current and future generation of JSA students.

“We were honored in the midst of COVID when we won the award for the first time, and I really want to give that group the praise they deserve. They truly set the groundwork for us to stay active and successful,” Farhadian said.

Now being awarded with the latest regional award, the Pitman JSA chapter will now be up for nationwide honors.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” Farhadian said. “These students are so deserving and I’m really proud of them.”