While the international community responded to the announcement of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s resignation on Nov. 21, local high school students were working to address world problems at a Model United Nations Conference in Missoula.
Students from Flathead, Glacier, Columbia Falls, Ronan and Whitefish high schools participated at the 52nd annual conference held Nov. 20-21 at the University of Montana.
Top honors went to Columbia Falls High School, which earned “outstanding” accolades for its overall performance among large delegations (17 or more students).
At the mock United Nations conference, students represented a country and served on one of five committees: General Assembly Plenary, General Assembly First Committee (disarmament and security), General Assembly Second Committee (economic and financial), General Assembly Third Committee (social, cultural, and humanitarian), and Security Council.
Columbia Falls and Flathead had teams representing Finland and the United States, respectively, that also received the outstanding designation in the country delegation awards.
There were roughly 400 students from 21 high schools throughout Montana and Idaho participating in the conference.
A select few individuals achieved outstanding designations, including Flathead’s Rebecca Vance for her position paper and Glacier’s Keegan Siebenaler for his performance as a delegate.
The top five senior performers at the conference were offered $1,000 University of Montana scholarships. Vance made the cut in addition to Columbia Falls student Ava Chisholm.
If a student turns down a scholarship, it is offered to the next student in line. Students ranking in the top 20 were: Flathead students Matthew Carroll and Noah Love; Columbia Falls students Jordyn King and Danielle Schwalk; and Glacier’s Siebenaler.
Following Parliamentary procedure, students debate, negotiate, caucus, draft and vote on resolutions to arrive at solutions through research, public speaking and writing position papers or policy statements. Students spend months learning about the country they represent and its issues before the conference.
“The students worked hard to understand and present their country’s positions. I am very impressed with their research and ability to think about world issues from a different perspective,” said Columbia Falls Model United Nations advisor Tara Norick.
Committees worked on a range of topics including: adjusting to climate change; promoting intercultural understanding; nuclear disarmament; strengthening security and cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean; human settlements; the role of women in development; abolishing the death penalty; protecting the rights of indigenous people; the situation in Afghanistan; and protecting civilians in armed conflict.
“There is value in having high school students discuss difficult world issues from the different perspectives around the world. It gives them a sense of the complexity of our global society,” Norick said.
As students work toward passing resolutions, discussions can get lively, even heated, but teams maintained proper decorum, said Flathead Model United Nations advisor Lauren Gustafson.
“Students had a great time, learned real-world applicable skills they can put to use in the future, and worked along side one another to come together to achieve world peace,” said Gustafson.
Following is a list of top students along with their schools and countries represented.
Outstanding Large Delegation (top 10 percent): Columbia Falls High School
Country Delegation Awards
• Outstanding (top 5 percent of countries)
Columbia Falls, Finland — Ava Chisholm, Jordyn King, Gabby Merrell, Danielle Schwalk.
Flathead, United States of America — Matthew Carroll, Morgan Kelly, Noah Love, Rebecca Vance.
• Distinguished (top 10 percent)
Columbia Falls, Indonesia — Ella Hutcheson, Sam Lovering, Maggie McKeon, Cassidy Norick
Glacier, Ethiopia — Nina Friedman, Charles Iannucci, Jenna McCorie, Keegan Siebenaler, Emma Trunkle.
• Honorable (top 20 percent)
Columbia Falls, Bahamas — Delaney Conger, Noah Golan, Shyane Williams, Kelsey Wright.
Position Paper Awards
• Outstanding (top 2 percent): Rebecca Vance, Flathead.
• Distinguished (top 10 percent): Ella Hutcheson, Columbia Falls; Jenna McCorie, Glacier; Cassidy Norick, Columbia Falls; Jordyn King, Columbia Falls; Melissa Roybal, Flathead.
• Honorable (top 20 percent): Delaney Conger, Columbia Falls; Lara Erickson, Columbia Falls; Kelea Ilac, Ronan; Jesse Ruche, Columbia Falls; Trevor Woodward, Glacier; Kelsey Wright, Columbia Falls.
• Outstanding (top 1-2 percent): Keegan Siebenaler, Glacier.
• Distinguished (top 10 percent): Zachary Ade, Whitefish; Brenden Anderson, Glacier; Ava Chisholm, Columbia Falls; Noah Love, Flathead; Izy Lyon, Glacier; Galvin Ness, Glacier; Cassidy Norick, Columbia Falls; Emma Trunkle, Glacier; Rebecca Vance, Flathead.
• Honorable (top 20 percent): Seth Carmichael, Whitefish; Morgan Kelly, Flathead; Jordyn King, Columbia Falls; Sam Lovering, Columbia Falls; Jenna McCorie, Glacier; Kayla McDowall, Columbia Falls; Danielle Schwalk, Columbia Falls; Emmett Van Allen, Glacier; Trevor Woodward, Glacier; Kelsey Wright, Columbia Falls.
Seniors in the top five: Ava Chisholm, Columbia Falls; Rebecca Vance, Flathead.
Seniors in the top 20: Matthew Carroll, Flathead; Jordyn King, Columbia Falls; Noah Love, Flathead; Danielle Schwalk, Columbia Falls; Keegan Siebenaler, Glacier.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or email@example.com.