The Student Voice of Prosper High School

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The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

Students expand club, promote political depolarization

Junior State of America Prosper chapter grows beliefs, hopes for future
Junior+Katya+Kondragunta%2C+Kansas+Gov.+Laura+Kelly+and+junior+Mara+Gonzalez+Moral+finish+their+discussion+on+how+to+help+stop+polarization+and+implement+depolarization+in+local+communities.+Polarization+is+when+people+from+different+beliefs%2C+like+political+beliefs+in+our+scenario%2C+form+a+bubble+around+themselves+in+a+way+and+only+talk+to+people+who+have+the+same+beliefs+as+them%2C+Moral+said.+Depolarization+is+showing+people+you+can+come+together+from+different+groups.+You+can+learn+to+compromise%2C+and+you+can+learn+to+listen.
Courtesy of Scott Nichols
Junior Katya Kondragunta, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and junior Mara Gonzalez Moral finish their discussion on how to help stop polarization and implement depolarization in local communities. “Polarization is when people from different beliefs, like political beliefs in our scenario, form a bubble around themselves in a way and only talk to people who have the same beliefs as them,” Moral said. “Depolarization is showing people you can come together from different groups. You can learn to compromise, and you can learn to listen.”

In a world where divisiveness exists, juniors Mara Gonzalez Moral and Katya Kondragunta have embarked on a mission to revolutionize their school’s communication skills.

Prosper Junior State of America president Moral and JSA member, Kondragunta attended the George W. Bush Presidential Center “The Art of Disagreeing Better” Jan. 22 event.

“We listened for a few minutes because they did most of the talking – discussing from their experience and why listening is such an important skill,” Moral said. “(We learned) how these sorts of conversations can lead to compromise and better politics.”

Moral said she has a goal to encourage depolarization in the school’s community.

“Polarization is when people from different beliefs, like political beliefs in our scenario, form a bubble around themselves, in a way, and only talk to people who have the same beliefs as them,” Moral said. “Depolarization is showing people you can come together from different groups. You can learn to compromise, and you can learn to listen.”

Moral said social media is an example of pure polarization.

“This is something that’s happening a lot nowadays with social media because whatever you like, whoever you follow, that’s the only thing that comes back to you,” Moral said. “So at the end of the day, you’re hearing all the opinions that you want to hear, which only strengthens your own beliefs and not listening to the other side — we’re being stuck in our own ideals.”

Moral grew up in Washington, D.C., surrounding herself with politics, which allowed her to become a debate-oriented person — with support from her family.

“I’m not stubborn but more of an outgoing and loud person, in general,” Moral said. “I always like making my thoughts known, respectfully. I think that they (my family) did instill that love for debate in me because they’re also that way.”

Getting to express her skills as Founder of the JSA Prosper chapter, Moral wants to teach students at here how to disagree better, specifically about world politics.

“And what I learned about disagreeing better is it’s not just about listening to arguments,” Moral said. “Instead of arguing, just listening for one minute, and then rebutting everything they say. You need to reply with ‘Hey, let me hear your opinion, and why do you believe this?'”

With the help of JSA and her debate skills, Moral inspired Kondragunta to join the club. Kondragunta has been active in the club ever since.

“We try just to get anybody that comes into the room to get up and speak,” Kondragunta said. “We motivate them to speak because it’s really hard for a lot of kids at the school, and everywhere, honestly.”

JSA was a participant during Expo Night where multiple clubs filled the PHS halls for incoming students.

“We talked to them about how our club runs and how we’re trying to get implemented in more schools, so more people can have this opportunity to try to talk about more opinions and ideas without being judged,” Kondragunta said. “We’re trying to promote healthy conversations where it’s controversial topics – but respectfully.”

Kondragunta said the “The Art of Disagreeing Better” event prepared her to help others who to communicate better.

“I learned about how it’s important to treat everybody with respect no matter what (political) party they’re in,” Kondragunta said. “In the school system today in our society – we tend to view someone else in a different party than you or have different beliefs from you – we tend to divide ourselves from them, which we shouldn’t do. We should instead encourage conversations.”

Adviser for JSA and government teacher Scott Nichols helps facilitate at the club meetings and create a space for students to reach their communication goals.

“The club itself helps young people learn how to debate with respect and with facts,” Nichols said. “The club meetings on Thursdays have been exciting and full of students having fun debating and learning how to debate — there’s more room for others though.”

Nichols said the club wouldn’t be as active without Moral and Kondragunta.

“Mara has a great passion for the Junior State of America Club and convinced me to sponsor this approved club to help get it running,” Nichols said. “She is joined by Katya, who has an equal passion. Mara and Katya have taken the lead, and we’ve already had two meetings – and SAT tutoring scheduled for every Tuesday in February.”

Moral said she hopes to continue the expansion of listening and learning with world politics.

“We can’t keep living in a world where we’re so polarized,” Moral said. “You just have to listen.”

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Juliana Cruz, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Juliana Cruz, a former native New Yorker, is a senior at Prosper High School. This is her second year working for Eagle Nation Online and she serves as social media manager, news editor and Editor in Chief. She enjoys writing and wants to continue to expand her coverage. Outside of school and work, she is on the powerlifting team and spends her time with family.
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