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Model UN team prepares for conference after club restructuring

Published Jan. 21, 2020

By ANDREW WANG

After a period of internal club changes and a stellar result at an earlier conference, the CHS Model UN team is getting in gear for the upcoming Santa Clara Valley Model UN Conference on Jan. 29 and 30, an event that hosts over 1,000 students from across the world.

“I think we’re going to do well in the competition,” says junior Mark Foley, a second-year member of the Carmel High team. “It seems everyone is more motivated and knowledgeable after the last conference.”

A glimpse inside the 2019 Lyceum conference reveals the intricacies of diplomatic deliberation. (courtesy of the Lyceum of Monterey County)

Model UN is an academic competition where students simulate the diplomatic processes of the United Nations. They draft position papers and collaborate with one another at conferences to find solutions for real-world problems.

The conference that Foley is referring to is the Lyceum of Monterey County’s Model UN Conference, which happens every October for schools on the Monterey Peninsula. This year, the team took home three awards — the most awards earned at a single event in the team’s history.

These accomplishments follow a series of changes within the club. Not only are Model UN events now being held virtually, but the team had to fill a leadership void after the retirement of its longtime club adviser. Students took initiative by drafting and voting on club bylaws, one of which being an annual election for team leadership positions.

“We wanted the club to have more structure this year,” says senior Grace Craig-Fulford, the club’s president. “During some meetings, I do presentations to show some of the newcomers what Model UN is and how to do it.”

Traditionally, new Model UN members would receive little instruction before competing at events. Craig-Fulford herself remembers the difficulties of having to figure everything out on the fly during her very first conference sophomore year. Creating these presentations was a part of her effort to better prepare newer members.

“Her presentations are very informative and they cover the different situations that you might find yourself in during a conference,” says senior Henry Connolly, Model UN vice president. “Here’s roll call. Here’s an opening speech. That’s what an opening speech sounds like.”

Current CHS seniors Carissa Mendoza (left) and Grace Craig-Fulford (center) receive recognition after competing at the 2019 Lyceum conference. (courtesy of the Lyceum of Monterey County)

Towards the beginning of the year, Model UN was searching for someone to act as their club advisor. Assistant principal Debbi Puente volunteered for the role, partly because she was impressed with the team after having gone with them to the Berkeley conference last year.

“I’m here as the adult. I can make all the behind-the-scenes things happen, but the students are the ones who know Model UN,” Puente says. “They’re the ones teaching me.”

Puente and the students agree that her role is largely administrative and that club is adopting a more student-led approach.

“Mrs. Puente really gets everyone together, and whenever Grace isn’t able to do something, she’s always on top of it,” says sophomore Ayden Reed. “But she’s really taken a step back and let Grace take the reins.”

Being student-run certainly has its advantages. They can now make choices such as joining an extra competition, something made even easier with the elimination of travel costs.


“Our upcoming conference is in Santa Clara, and we’ve never done this conference before,” Connolly says. “We all sat around and said, ‘There’s no cost to driving out there, maybe we can do other conferences,’ and we decided on this one. That’s an example of how the club is more student-led now.”

Equipped with their new leadership, the Model UN team is excited to make their mark at the Santa Clara conference.

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