WALNUT CREEK -- When the high school Model United Nations adjourned last week in New York City, Northgate and Las Lomas students emerged as some of the top young dignitaries in world.
The Northgate Model United Nations team returned home from the National Model United Nations Conference March 6-9, with a second place Award of Excellence in the International Court of Justice Committee, and a third place Team Award of Merit overall. This is the first time a team from Northern California has earned awards at the national conference.
"This was an amazing experience for any student, but especially those of us interested in international politics," says Northgate sophomore Matt Fitzgerald, one of the six students who attended the conference.
Model United Nations is a rigorous endeavor, says Northgate Principal John McMorris, who advises the club. The school was assigned a country to represent last November, and spent the time since then researching the background, policies and issues of that country, and its role globally, readying for the New York conference.
Currently in its 39th year, the National High School Model United Nations Conference is the premier conference on the high school Model UN circuit. More than 3,000 delegates from 150 schools and more than 20 countries descended on midtown Manhattan.
Northgate's Model UN team is just in its second year. It is unusual in that it is a collaboration between Northgate and Las
"It was special having Northgate and Las Lomas students together," McMorris says. "We made Walnut Creek proud on the National stage,"
Matt agrees. "As long as we avoid talking about football, we can get things done," he says.
And they did. The Walnut Creek delegation represented the small Caribbean country of Dominica, and the students served on four committees: Hiromi Miyata served on the Special Political Committee, Matt and Soren McMorris served on the Legal Committee, Jared Bricklin and Lauren Valla served on the Disarmament Committee, and Las Lomas ' Rachel Ball-Jones served on the International Court of Justice.
"This team really worked hard to understand Dominica's approach to the world's problems," McMorris said. "This understanding of their assigned country stood out in committee."
And they learned the ins and outs of international politics, as well. A resolution Matt's legal committee worked on called for a meeting of everyone involved in the "Arab Spring" to discuss the issues -- rebels, old government and new government representatives. Getting that far was a lesson in compromise, he said. "So much politics actually inhibit real policymaking, it's frustrating," he says. "It was nice to feel like we got something done."
Up next for the award-winning team is a conference at UC Davis in May. And both Matt and McMorris see this as the beginning of a strong tradition for Walnut Creek.
"What this team lacked in experience they made up for in dogged determination, and commitment to excellence," McMorris says.
Real world leaders, take note.