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ECHS, SEHS team for stellar Model UN performance
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Debating a resolution to decide whether to pass it or not. Far left ECHS student Grady Newton and second from left SEHS student Donald Quinones representing New Zealand go through a debate on a resolution. Top right in the sweater vest is ECHS student Alex Naber and at top left is ECHS student Harrison Cowart. - photo by Photo provided

Effingham County High School students had a challenge to solve the world’s problems in 36 hours or less at the University of Georgia’s Model U.N. Conference XVIII.

The Effingham High School Model United Nations Academic team joined South Effingham High School’s Model United Nations team to form a joint Effingham County team. The session began with the opening ceremony program Feb. 3, and adjourned on Feb. 5.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Loch K. Johnson. Johnson served as the Special Assistant to the Chair of the Senate Select Committee House Subcommittee on Intelligence Oversight. He was the staff director of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence Oversight and highly involved in the work of the Aspin-Brown Commission on Intelligence from 1995-1996. He has published several books, including “A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation” and “The Threat on the Horizon: An Inside Account of America’s Search for Security after the Cold War.” Johnson is currently the Regents Professor of Political Science in the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia.

He encouraged the students to make a difference in the future and take an active role in government. The theme of his message was that people tend to “critique rather than contribute,” and he noted that these young people are contributors with their rigorous academic preparation.

Kyle Lankhorst and Alejandra Miramontes represented New Zealand while Rachel Mack and Jessica Brinson represented Spain in the General Assembly Committee of Disarmament. Donald Quinones and Grady Newton represented New Zealand and Harrison Cowart and Alex Naber represented Spain in the General Assembly Committee of Economics and Finance.
Brandyn Johnson, Chelsea Baldwin (Spain) and Connor Van Geel (New Zealand) were delegates in the Social-Humanitarian Committee. Brandon Cody represented Spain in General Assembly Legal. The Committee on Drugs and Crimes was represented by delegates Brandyn Nelms and Zack Brewton representing New Zealand. Harris Cutcher was a delegate on the Specialized Crisis Committees in the Committee on European Union.

The students examined international issues in depth. A few topics they explored were: nuclear proliferation, financial aid for new democratic governments, East African food crisis, immigration in the United States, AIDS and AIDS relief in Africa, copyright enforcement, human trafficking, legal ramifications of outsourcing, Mexican drug cartels, Afghanistan’s opium production with organized crime, Somali piracy, and the future of the European Monetary Union.

The students engaged in debate concerning current affairs issues. The students honed their public speaking skills and research skills. They researched and wrote resolutions for hours. The students learned about diplomacy and parliamentary procedure.

The advisors, Justin Keck, Crystal Starling and Dr. Nathalie Starling, were impressed with the talent and strength of the delegation.

“The hours of preparation paid off when they went to work in their committees,” said Keck.

Crystal Starling debriefed them Friday night and helped them with resolutions and parliamentary procedure.

Lankhorst and Miramontes won “Distinguished Delegation” for their diplomacy, resolution writing, and public speaking. Their strategy of demanding a delegate from Israel to appear in their session to answer questions was praised by the university students as cutting edge and innovative.

The Effingham County Delegation won “Outstanding Delegation” overall, one of only four awarded. There were 20 high schools participating from Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama. There were 290 students working at the conference.

“Year after year you encounter bumps in the road, but when you see the kids in action with that sparkle in their eyes then you know it is worth all the sacrifices,” said Dr. Starling.

Keck and Dr. Starling visited with former SEHS Model United Nations student John Rodriguez, who is a current UGA student. Rodriguez was working at an economic conference and briefed them on his conference and his upcoming interview with the very prestigious Roosevelt Institute. He attributed some of his speaking and research skills to his work as a Model United Nations student at SEHS.

Keck and Dr. Starling appreciate the support of their principals Yancy Ford at ECHS and Dr. Mark Winters at SEHS. They also offered thanks to Angie Wood, CTAE supervisor, and the CTAE Stang Zone for use of the Suburban.

Special thanks goes to Ms. Wood and the CTAE Stang Zone that provided the Suburban.