Briar Students Make Pitch To Save Great Barrier Reef 
Briar Middle School Model UN - Australia Team

Six Briar Middle School students stepped on a global stage this week and made a winning pitch to protect the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Their resolution was among the top 10 presented by junior high students from across Ohio at this year’s Junior Ohio Model United Nations.

The team, mostly of eighth-graders, was one of five teams of Perkins students from Briar Middle School that participated in the youth leadership conference in Columbus. Other Briar teams had resolutions for Cuba, France, Haiti, and India, and included sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders.

Preparation for the annual event began last fall, when the students formed teams around the country they were to represent, explained Perkins Model UN advisor Craig Wessels.

From there, the students researched the country and the array of international issues facing that nation. The students then picked an issue – possibly a political, environmental, or humanitarian – to advocate before the group. Each of the groups then produced a resolution that they presented to the Model U.N. council for consideration.

The Australia proposal, which called for rebuilding coral reefs and unleashing an army of underwater drones to attack an invasive species of starfish, was written and presented by eighth-graders William Werling, Drew Peiffer, Erika Eakes, Aaron Geise and Franklin Whipple, and sixth-grader Payton Werling.

Once at the forum, each of the groups must not only present their resolution and give a three-minute speech to explain and sell their resolution to other delegates, they also must be ready to defend their resolution when the delegates from other countries – and schools – question their arguments.

Each of the resolutions from the different countries is evaluated and scored on their merits, the students’ presentation skills, the debate on the proposals, and the overall impact on the mission of the United Nations.

The resolutions are initially presented in a Council setting, which is a smaller group of countries. If resolutions have global merits, they advance to be presented before the full, 129-nation General Assembly or Human rights Council.

The forum tests not only students’ writing and public speaking skills, but also their debate skills, Mr. Wessels said.

For the Briar Australia team, their resolution succeeded and was pushed to the full General Assembly. The team then had to make its pitch speech before the full General Assembly that included some 900 students from across Ohio’s junior high schools, who were allowed to question and argue against the resolution.

Interestingly, a livestream of the Briar students presentation got the attention of Australians, who watched and followed the debate via social media, Mr. Wessels said.

The other Briar Middle School teams and the country and resolutions they presented were:

  • Cuba: Alex Bogner, Jackson Beatty, Adalyn Feige, Korrin Garner-Blaking, Eve Hartley, Delilah Wilken, Aaron Welch, Abby Keller, Madalyn Thayer, and Ethan Tomasula; a resolution for the United States to abandon the Guantanamo Bay Naval facility.
  • France: Paige Lance, Nolan Herzog, Jayci Schmidt, Landon Williams, Jack Zimmerman, and Cayliana Campbell; a resolution to provide funding to improve a refugee camp.
  • Haiti: Emily Mitchel, Katie Kubitz, Ashritha Kota, Ashlyn Beatty, Peighton Corso, Caitlyn Erney, Greta Gross, and Christian Naphotz; a resolution to develop a program that extracts plastic trash from the ocean and turn it into building materials for homes.
  • India: Brinasia Pollard, Jady Voegle, Izzy Fleming, Madison Evans, and Samantha Green; a resolution to construct a desalination plant to produce drinking water for India and neighboring Bangladesh.

Model United Nations has a long tradition at Perkins Schools, Mr. Wessel said. For more than 30 years, Perkins students have been participating in the program, and the district typically takes 35 to 50 students. Ohio is the only state in the U.S. that has a junior high school competition.

In addition to the junior high program, Perkins High School also sends students to a separate high school version of the forum.

Posted by j_stacklin On 15 March, 2019 at 9:22 AM