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ELCS students tackle global issues

ELIZABETHTOWN - Several students at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School are showing they have a strong grasp of the major problems facing the world today.

Thirty-five students from ELCS attended the 34th session of the North Country Model United Nations held March 11-13 at Northeastern Clinton Central School.

Five of those students, Zach Denton, Paul Burdo, Cassie Jones, Josh Pierce, and Zach Allott, were awarded recognition as some of the best delegates in their respective committees.

The group represents one of the largest from ELCS in its more-than-15 year history of attending NCMUN.

"We're really pleased with five awards," said Pete Castine, co-advisor for the group. "They're going and competing against much larger schools."

The Model UN program puts students in a simulation of the real United Nations. Students are assigned to represent a specific country in mock committees, such as the Security Council or General Assembly, where they debate topics such as nuclear proliferation, human rights, and climate change.

Nine of the students also attended the Harvard Model UN conference January 27-31 in Boston, Mass., one of the oldest and larges Model UN conferences in the world. There, they toured the Ivy League campus and worked alongside students from schools across the Northeast.

"They get to meet students from other countries," said Castine, noting how schools in India and China send student delegations to Harvard.

Model UN co-advisor Catherine McCormick attended NCMUN as an ELCS student more than 10 years ago. Back then, the school had a class devoted to the program and many students were required to participate. While those practices have changed, there are still many students that opt to get involved.

"These are all kids that are willing to go, that want to go," said McCormick. "They put in time outside their classes and sports in order to do this."

The students must prepare for Model UN by doing their own research to best represent their assigned country through speeches and arguments at the conference. Many of the students agreed the program helped them develop better public speaking skills and a stronger grasp of current events.

"The main thing is finding out where your country stands on the issue," said Pierce, who won the Best Delegate award for his participation in NCMUN's International Court of Justice. "You learn the entire process and what the UN has the power to do."

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