The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 15, 2010

Jefferson Model U.N. team carrying on its tradition of excellence

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — JEFFERSON — Upon recent participation in the Lake Erie International Model United Nations Conference, Jefferson’s preparation and experience showed as Jefferson, advised by John Patterson, took home second place with every participating senior receiving an award. The conference was held March 30 until April 1 at the Ashtabula Branch of Kent State.

The Jefferson Model United Nations Team has a very rich and winning history. The program was started in 1980 by Greg Leary and Eva Heidecker. The program, taken over by Patterson in its fifth year, has only continued to excel. When looking at the program’s success, Patterson credits all the great people that have been involved.

“Ever since the program started, nothing but great people have been associated with it,” Patterson said. “I have had the honor to work with Ms. Champlin, Mrs. Hostetler, the Hoysons, Mrs. Laidley and Miss Unsinger. The students over the years put in great effort to make the program what it is today. Everyone’s effort combined makes this program great.”

Over the years, the debate team has definitely showed off their skills at a variety of conferences. Every year, Model U.N. travels to participate in the Lake Erie International Model United Nations conference in Ashtabula, the Youngstown State University Conference and The Model United Nations of University of Chicago Conference. This year, for the first time in the program’s history, the team was invited to participate in the Westminster Conference on May 5. Every year, Jefferson hosts its own Model United Nations Conference, coined Model U.N. U.S.A, and invites 10 local teams to come and get some experience before some of the bigger conferences start.

Another great experience that the team has experienced was the Harvard Conference from 1991 to 2004 and a very special opportunity was in 1995 when the team was invited to travel to the Netherlands to participate in a truly International Conference. Jefferson was one of the very few public schools from the United States to be invited and participate in the Netherlands Conference. Patterson sees the variety of conferences as a strength of the program.

“The conferences we have participated in and the results reflect the effort that the students put in and the amount of experience the team has accumulated over the years,” Patterson said.

The Model United Nations program does more than provide a place for students to engage in constructive debate. Patterson said the program teaches life lessons that can be utilized for the rest of the participant’s life.

“All that is needed coming in to the program is desire and the want to become better, after that students begin to pick up skills that will make them a better debater, student and person,” Patterson said. “First the researching skills will be improved to better familiarize yourself with a country’s background and views, then writing skills will be improved in order to write a position paper or a resolution. Once these are installed, parliamentary procedure will be taught, which is the rules on the U.N. floor, then public speaking, debate and finally acting will be learned. Once all of these are learned, students will no longer go through the motions, but will get into the role they are assigned and really dig deeper and make the simulation a great experience.”

This style of teaching and learning using passive methods is something Patterson is an expert on, his doctoral dissertation was written on the positive effects student-involved teaching methods have, such as simulations and any activities that place the student at the helm.

“This organization will impact role identification with greater efficacy, the feeling that an impact or a difference can be made,” he said. “These role playing simulations will give students the feeling that they can make a difference in life. Students will feel empowered and that they can make a difference in the world. Students that have participated in Model United Nations have gone on to do great things.”

Patterson has been a resident of Jefferson for all of his life. He is a cross country coach and teaches history along with advising the Model United Nations Team.

The Lake Erie International Model United Nations Conference, or as senior U.N. participant Jared Jacobs puts it, “LEIMUN, pronounced like ‘layman’s’ terms,” was a great showing of the skill and experience the Jefferson team has. Every senior, around 20 of them, received an award, which is a superior, the top award, or an excellent. This was the first time in history that every senior has received an award and this year’s performance was one of the best based on the amount of awards earned by Jefferson.

A special recognition was awarded to senior Tyler Starcher, who won the second annual delegate dance-off competition. At the end of the second day, a delegate dance is held, where gavels are laid down and the dancing shoes are put on. With music and food provided, the atmosphere is relaxed as participants are able to socialize interscholastically and let out any stress the conference creates.

The closing ceremony concluded the conference, as well as handed out the awards and named the conference winner. Scoring was based on a point system, five points for a superior and four for an excellent, and the top 10 scores are counted for the team total. When the final tallying was completed, the results were the closest in history, with first and second separated by only two points. South View High School from Lorain took home the gold, with Jefferson finishing a close second, and Geneva taking home a respectable third.

After such a great display of skill at LEIMUN conference, Jefferson looks forward to participating at Youngstown State and Westminster universities. With advisers like John Patterson, Nancy Champlin and Rachel Unsinger, and leadership provided by seniors such as Tyler Starcher, Jared Jacobs and Kelly Tisch, the Jefferson United Nations Team is sure to continue their winning tradition in the upcoming conferences.