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Three Hamilton High School students who attended the Northern Rockies Model Arab League Conference walked away as the top high school delegation.

Hamilton student Becca Poliquin said the Bitterroot Valley team represented the State of Kuwait at the three-day debate conference.

Poliquin said there were five councils that students could participate in. She was on the Council of Palestinian Affairs, classmate Tony Chin was on the Joint Defense Council and Antara Mason was on the Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers.

“Everyone was trying to come up with one solution,” Poliquin said. She said that the overall experience was educationally enriching.

“Good ideas were appreciated,” she said.

Poliquin was voted as the head delegate for the team and was the voice of the State of Kuwait.

The students spent their days debating issues ranging from cyber-security and access to fresh water to public health among refugees. They began preparing for the debates three weeks prior to the event.

“It was a huge learning experience, especially because we were competing against college students who were taking a course,” Chin said.

He was awarded Top Delegate at the conference overall.

“I am proud of myself and thankful for Mr. Lowe for getting me off the ground,” Chin said.

He said that most of the college students were congratulatory after he won top delegate and others were surprised.

Chin said he went into the conference with a background in debate, but that he worked hard to negotiate with others and find a solution to the problem.

“I strove to bring the entire room together,” he said.

Hamilton coach Jeff Lowe had experience with the Model Arab League, as he competed there for several years in college.

“They did wonderful arguing their points,” he said. “After three weeks, they were discussing policy arguments against college students.”

“They really put in a lot of hard work,” Lowe said.

The debates included six Hellgate High School students and more than 20 University of Montana students.

Lowe said that next year he hopes to recruit more Bitterroot Valley schools for the “tremendous learning experience.”

Reach reporter Julia Cummings at 363-3300 or julia.cummings@ravallirepublic.com.

Reporter Julia Cummings can be reached at 363-3300 ext. 35 or at julia.cummings@ravallirepublic.com.

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