SMHS students fare well at Model UN conference

Participants in Signal Mountain High School’s popular Model United Nations program nearly doubled in number this year, signifying a growing interest in global issues among students.

“It’s an incredible way for students to kind of see what they do in school and put it into practice in sort of a real-world situation,” said Regina Hickl-Szabo, SMHS parent and MUN supporter. “Kids have to think on their feet, be persuasive and know how to craft a good argument.”


Contributed photo

SMHS Model UN team member Micajah Tucker, third from left, represents France in a caucus in the United Nations Environment Programme.

In just its second year with a full delegation, SMHS had more students participate than any other school in the local MUN conference held recently at The Chattanoogan.

The SMHS delegation was composed of 53 students, up from 31 students last year —already a large group considering that most delegations from other schools average around 25 students, said SMHS teacher of gifted students Michael Franks. He serves as the SMHS MUN teacher adviser along with Advanced Placement world history teacher Nancy Baxley.

“Those 31 came back and said what a good time they had, and that just spread like crazy,” Franks said, adding that the world view students are exposed to in an International Baccalaureate school like SMMHS also likely contributes to the high level of interest in Model UN.

Open to any student with a grade-point average of 3.2 or higher, the group meets in the fall to choose a country to represent at the annual Model UN conference. After the team applies to represent their chosen country and is accepted, team members form committees and get together six or seven times to go over the country’s position on different topics, said Franks.

“It’s really student-led,” he said of the Model UN team, which he said teaches students skills such as how to debate, present ideas and compromise with others.

Named third-best delegation at the conference, the SMHS team included John Frank Strength, Zach Brown, Marissa Roth, Jonathan Shander, Andrew Clark, Mary Taylor Goeltz, Davis Brock, Kylila Tucker, Madeline Ragland and Micajah Tucker.

“The people in charge of Model UN noticed every team member was involved and engaged and taking on every leadership role in the committees,” said Franks.

Kylila Tucker was one of 18 students from the conference selected as an All Star Delegate, who will serve as the school’s representative at the 2013 National High School Model United Nations Conference in New York this March.

“She’s quite a speaker on the floor,” said Franks.

An Honorable Mention went to Andrew Clark for his participation in the Economic and Financial Committee.

“They’re really laying the foundation for a successful Model UN program [at SMHS] going forward,” said Hickl-Szabo.


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