The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 6, 2014

Model U.N. team competing in 'Windy City'

For the Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The Jefferson Model United Nations team, formerly led by John Patterson, has had a very successful history. In past years, the number of students involved had exceeded 80. The team attended five conferences each year including conferences in Jefferson, Chicago, Kent State University, Youngstown State University and Westminster. Many of the Jefferson delegates brought home numerous awards at each conference, which led to the Model U.N. team being ranked among the top 75 teams in North America. The students did not only gain prestigious awards through this program, they were also able to practice life skills like public speaking, negotiation, problem solving and writing. The hard work of the Model U.N. students paid off because of their efficient work ethic and deeper understanding of the world around them.

Though there are fewer students on the Model U.N. team this year, they are working hard to continue toward success with the guidance of their new teacher, Donald Palm, who is also a history, psychology and world affairs teacher at Jefferson. Palm and the team feel that it is very important to preserve the Model U.N. program because of its successful past at Jefferson and all of the enriching benefits that it provides for the students.

“This program is important to the past and to the future of our school,” said senior Jerod Nunley. “It helps us refine our debating and speaking skills, especially in front of large groups of people. This is a big fear that many people never overcome.”

Senior and six-year Model U.N. student Mason Taylor also commented on the importance of strengthening and expanding the Model U.N. program. He said, “Model U.N. helps to educate the youth on issues going on outside of our small town-issues that affect everyone. It allows us to broaden our views and become more informed and involved citizens.” Taylor also suggested that other students try to get involved with the program, not only to facilitate a growing sense of pride in the program, but to learn a better work ethic and enjoy the intellectual atmosphere of debate.

The Model U.N. team is preparing for their conference at the University of Chicago being held Feb. 5 through Sunday. At this conference, more than 2,000 students compete for awards for excellence in debate. Among these students, 13 Jefferson students will also be in attendance, including: seniors Tayler Johnston, Mason Taylor, Jerod Nunley and Caitlyn Stimson; juniors Abigail Pete, Zoe Contenza, Phil Sarbiewski, Casey Hall and Ryan Martin; and freshmen Jonathon Norton, Alexis Meaney, Theodore Johnson and Janet Hawkins. The students will be representing the country of Venezuela, with the exception of Nunley and Hawkins, who will be representing the Confederation of German Trade Unions.

The team has done a lot to help prepare them for the competitive atmosphere of the conference.

“Since this is my first year as adviser, we have been relying heavily on the returning U.N. members and Dr. Patterson’s advice to help guide us through the preparation for the conference,” said Palm.

The team has been working on giving policy statements, speeches, doing basic research and writing position papers, which they have to present to the judges prior to the conference. The returning Model U.N. students are hoping to achieve the prestigious, yet well-deserved, awards this year at conference, while the rookie members are excited to gain the knowledge and experience that will help to maintain a successful future for the team.

Taylor is especially excited for his last conference in Chicago and hopes to see his teammates succeed as well. He said, “Our team is always placed remarkably high, especially for a public school in such a rural area. We drop jaws! We prove that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s about the hard work you put into everything you do, and what you want to get out of it.”

“It is going to be a new experience, but there will be many valuable lessons to be learned that will only help our team to be more successful,” Palm said. “I am excited to see the students’ abilities grow.”

He hopes that they are able to take away confidence and knowledge from the conference, as well as their exciting stay in the “Windy City.”