Middle and high school students from six schools in four counties joined their peers at Mount Madonna School (MMS) for its inaugural regional Model United Nations (Model UN or MUN) conference on Feb. 11.
The theme of the conference, “Climate Justice for All: Addressing Inequality,” had students debating global issues from the perspective of their adopted countries, including sustainable tourism, women in climate leadership and green technology transfer to less developed countries. The student delegates spent four hours over the course of the day drafting solutions to these issues, working in groups and then individually through formal debate.
“Doing Model UN has made me much more confident and a lot less nervous talking in front of larger audiences,” said MMS sixth-grader Emma Killough.
“I enjoyed learning more about MUN at the conference and speaking for my country to support my committee’s cause,” said MMS student Nolan McKibbin, who received the “Best Delegate” award in the committee focusing on sustainable tourism.
Participants also included students from Ann Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill, as well as Brownell Academy Middle School in Gilroy.
The student organizing team from Mount Madonna School, Moreland Notre Dame, Santa Cruz Montessori and Stevenson School in Pebble Beach kicked off the opening ceremony by inviting keynote speaker Jackie McCloud, sustainability chief for the City of Watsonville, to address students about the local impact and challenges of climate change, particularly in light of recent flooding in the Pajaro Valley.
Lisa Martin, director of the lower school and the MUN coordinator at Mount Madonna School, then awarded longtime Watsonville High School educator and MUN advisor Ron Jones with an award recognizing his more than 30-year contribution to the development of MUN in the Pajaro Valley.
“As we start the process of relaunching MUN in the region after almost two decades of absence,” Martin told the audience, “we would like to recognize and thank Ron Jones, history teacher, MUN director extraordinaire, a legend at Watsonville High School and wonderful human being for his enduring contributions to youth in Watsonville.”