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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton High team received top award at national Model UN conference

Jun 04, 2019 02:16PM ● By Julie Slama

Brighton High Model UN team smiles after receiving the distinguished Research and Preparation Award at the 2019 National High School Model UN conference in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Jim Hodges/Brighton High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Twenty-five countries. Thirty-five hundred students. First place.

That’s Brighton High Model United Nation team’s bragging rights as they received the distinguished Research and Preparation Award at the 2019 National High School Model UN conference in New York City.

For more than 20 straight years, Brighton High Model United Nations students have taken part in the National High School Model UN assembly, having been recognized nationally as one of the top teams in the country.

“We always do well in New York, but we haven’t taken first in a couple years,” said coach Jim Hodges, who took 19 students to the New York conference in early March. “It’s a great honor.”

Model UN is an educational extracurricular activity for students to role-play as delegates to the UN to simulate committees where they learn about diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations. Through Model UN, students learn diplomatic skills, public speaking, teamwork, writing, research and become more concerned citizens, Hodges said.

To prepare for nationals, as well as for their season, students began in November researching the background of several countries and their positions on numerous topics. Then, they wrote 10–15 pages on every subject so they would be prepared to present resolutions in Model UN committees. 

At each competition, students take the part of delegates representing an assigned country. At nationals, Brighton students became Romanian delegates. Students also have the possibility to speak at the general assembly, which Brighton was able to do when they spoke on disarmament and about the European Constitution, a treaty intended to create a consolidated constitution for the European Union.

The New York City conference is an international, invitation-only event where “the competition is fierce,” Hodges said.

Principal Tom Sherwood, who accompanied the team, said the opportunity is amazing for students to participate in the United Nations building.

“The kids gather from all over the word to discuss current events and policies,” he said. “They’re understanding the reality of global diplomacy and negotiating. It’s amazing to watch our team, as a delegation, present their case and get people to see their perspective. Being awarded first place in research and preparation really speaks to the caliber of our kids and the program.”

This isn’t the first time Brighton has won the award, Sherwood said.

“The quality of our students and the dedication of our adviser has led Brighton to be a successful program. We’re an automatic qualifier for nationals because of their level of excellence,” he said. 

That standard also is revealed on the state level, where Brighton had dominated, winning 20 of the last 21 state Model UN titles, including this year.

While in New York, not only did the students compete and tour the United Nations, they were able to take in “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, go to museums, visit the Empire State Building and see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Brighton’s Model UN program started under David Chavez in the school’s first year. John McMorris coached the team after Chavez prior to Hodges.