Encinitas student earns prestigious award

Seventeen students from Pacific Ridge School were among over 800 high school delegates from around the country to participate in Columbia University’s 15th annual Model United Nations Conference and Exposition (CMUNCE) Jan. 14-17.

The Columbia conference is known for its fast-paced crisis committees, which allow students to react quickly and address real-world scenarios in international affairs. Pacific Ridge students are particularly adept at crisis committee work, as it is a mainstay of the conference they co-host each year with High Tech High North County. The two schools hosted the 5th annual North County Regional Conference in December.

"Crisis scenarios add a lot to the experience," noted Josh Kahn, a Pacific Ridge senior from Encinitas who took home a Best Delegate award. "Delegates have to be adaptable and think on their feet. It makes the conference fun, but they also need to really understand the issues in order to respond to unanticipated events." Josh won his award for a historical committee addressing the 1777 Grand Council of the Iroquois Nations.

Michael Rattner, a sophomore, was among the conference’s award winners, receiving Best Delegate honors for his work with classmate Connie Yu of Carlsbad. The two students served as a dual delegation in a committee addressing Bolivia’s 2003 "Gas War."

According to Michael, participating in a national conference like CMUNCE was exhilarating.

"It was an incredibly high-powered debate," he said. "Model UN brings together people who really care about current events and it’s a great chance to compare your views and ideas with other people who also care."

Model UN events allow students to role play as world delegates to solve international issues. To prepare for conferences, students do research and write position papers for their committees. At the event, student delegates function as the real United Nations would, debating issues and forming resolutions. Students who participate in Model UN display a firm grasp of historical and current affairs, and give their analytical and public speaking skills a good workout.

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