Three Bitterroot Valley schools excel at MUN

Three Bitterroot Valley schools excel at MUN


Ravalli Homeschool students, Hamilton High students and Darby High students experienced politics at the 2019 Model United Nations convention held at the University of Montana on Nov. 25 and 26.

Model United Nations is designed to teach students critical thinking skills in geography, culture, economics, security, politics and communications.

“Students gain an understanding of effective modes of communication, diplomacy, and collaboration while addressing major global issues and the distinctives of other countries,” said Tanya Horat, Ravalli Homeschool group advisor. “They also refine their research and writing skills as they compose a position paper representing a country and topic that is assigned to them.”

In preparation for the convention, Horat and Holly Shupert met weekly with a group of seven homeschool students for practice of speaking skills, training in parliamentary procedure, research and collaboration on possible resolutions to global issues.

Their hard work paid off and the homeschool students came home with numerous awards including: top 20% “Honorable,” top 10% “Distinguished” and top 1-2%.

The Belgium team received Outstanding Country Delegation: Sam Fullante — GA1. Honorary Delegate, Distinguished Position Paper, Top 20 Senior; Isabell Cannon — GA3, Distinguished Delegate; Emily Perez — UNICEF, Distinguished Delegate; John Shupert — Belgium, Security Council, Honorary Delegate, Distinguished Position Paper, Top 20 Senior.

The Canada team received Distinguished Country Delegation: Anna Kinnunen — GA1, Distinguished Delegate, Outstanding Position Paper; Alaina Estus — GA3, Distinguished Delegate, Distinguished Position Paper; Kirsten Duke — UNICEF, Honorary Delegate, Outstanding Position Paper.

The Ravalli Homeschool group received the Outstanding Small School Award.

Hamilton High School adviser Kiah Nisly said this is their first year, in recent memory, to participate in Model United Nations.

“It was definitely a steep learning curve for the advisers, Chad DeLong and myself,” she said. “One of our main goals at Hamilton High is getting students involved. When students are involved in sports or academic extra-curricular activities we notice increased positive behavior and academic success in the classroom. We also want to give our students an array of experiences that will make them successful in their next step of life.”

At a Model U.N. competitions, teams are given a country and two topics. They research their country’s stance on those two topics, prepare a position paper stating that stance and then initiate dialogue with other nations. Delegates make speeches about the topics and what actions their country would like to see the U.N. take to ensure that it is beneficial to all. Students collaborate with other delegates, craft resolutions and pass measures to be carried out by the assembly.

HHS students included: James Truax, Sydney Greek, Sidney DeLong, Emma Mitchell, Charlie Passey, Logan VanDenburg, Kris Clark, Ezra Gary, Gavin Turner, Meakin Vermillion and Holly Mahon.

“Although initially timid, our Model UN delegates jumped right in with both feet,” Nisly said. “Our students were successful in learning parliamentary procedure quickly. Some even became the leader in their assembly of 20 to 40 students to co-sign resolutions and ensure they had enough signatories to get them heard by the larger MUN assembly.”

Nisly credits upperclassmen, Holly Mahon, Logan VanDenburg and Charlie Passey, with taking initiative to make the most of the experience.

“We are hoping for even more success next year now that we have mastered the basics and our students know what to expect fully,” Nisly said.

This was Darby High School adviser Steve Gideon’s 28th year attending Model United Nations and is the “longest serving adviser.”

“Our guest speaker was Michael Punke, who wrote ‘The Revenant’ and worked for the U.S. government as an ambassador to the World Trade Organization, he is currently a vice president for Amazon,” Gideon said. “Seth Bodnar, the President of the University of Montana, gave opening remarks.”

Gideon praised the MUN program where students role play real problems and issues facing the world today.

“Examples are international cooperation for the peaceful uses of outer space, nuclear disarmament, eliminating violence against children and sustainable development,” Gideon said. “Students prepared by writing position papers on two topics, then as a group they worked on making solutions and writing a resolution.”

Darby awards included: Joslyn Graham — Egypt, GA1, Distinguished Delegate; Madison Conner — Egypt, GA2, Distinguished Position Paper; Elsa Podesta — Kuwait, Security Council, Top 25 Senior; Micah Wald — Kuwait, GA1, Top 25 Senior; Sophia Delvo — Mexico, GA3, Top 25 Senior.

Darby students shared their impressions of the two-day event.

Junior Nolan Bumgardner, Kuwait-UNICEF, said, "I liked meeting all the people and listening to what they thought about all the problems.”

Junior Annie Rennaker, Iran, GA2, said she liked the speakers.

“I thought that they were very interesting, it was really cool to see a bunch of people who were passionate about government,” Rennaker said. “I learned a lot more about what we can do as a nation to be more sustainable.”

Sophomore Dillon Macllwraith, Iran, GA1, said the Model U.N. experience was good.

“I mainly learned just how the overall process works, made a couple friends there,” he said. “Most of it you can read on beforehand, but it was actually doing it which made it fun and cool.”

Junior Joslyn Graham, Egypt, GA1, said Model U.N. was fun.

“This year I felt like I definitely came out of my shell a lot more than past years,” she said. “This year I learned a lot about different people's views of nuclear warfare. I learned that a lot of people will be fighting for what they think is correct without considering what they have to do to get there. A lot of people wanted to take away the nuclear warfare, but a lot of people didn’t consider actually how they are going to implement that.”

The Darby team also attended the Grizzly basketball game where the Griz beat Southern Texas.


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The program introduces fly fishing to disable active military service personnel and disabled veterans to help with the physical and emotional rehabilitation.

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