LOHS and Lakeridge students learn how to lead at Model United Nations event

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: JES WEBB - Lake Oswego High School’s Jamie MacRitchie was one of two vice presidents for the Oregon Model United Nations this year.Hundreds of local students headed down to Eugene for the 65th annual Model United Nations conference. Several of them came back with honors — and two became officers.

Some 134 Lakeridge High School students and 119 Lake Oswego High School students joined more than 1,300 students attending the three-day conference earlier this month at the University of Oregon.

The annual event is akin to a United Nations meeting with students representing countries and arguing topical political, economic and social issues. Students pass resolutions and elect officers for the following year, and participants have a shot at dozens of speaking awards.

“I love how real everyone, all the participants, make it,” said Lakeridge senior Celeste Nahas, a 2012-13 undersecretary. “None of the students go there thinking ‘oh, we’re just pretending.’ Everyone is fully invested in the countries they’re representing.”

Lake Oswego pocketed nine awards, and Lakeridge scooped up three awards. One Lakeridge student served as a vice president, and one Lake Oswego High student held the other vice presidentship this year. Two Lakeridge high schoolers were undersecretaries, including Nahas.

Lakeridge students landed a vice president position and undersecretary spot for next year’s conference.

Lake Oswego senior Jamie MacRitchie was vice president, one of two committee chairmen for the general assembly, leading committees through the creation of resolutions.

“It’s made me aware of how the United Nations is able to contribute to making global change having to do with poverty, energy policy and climate change,” MacRitchie said.

Lakeridge social studies teacher Ryan Rosenau launched his school’s Model U.N. program eight years SUBMITTED PHOTO: JES WEBB - Lakeridge students Matt White, right, and Julian Heninger were leaders in the Model United Nations conference in Eugene. Westview High School student Frank Wang, seated, was the secretary general at the event.

Students “really have to learn to compromise, debate, understand different ideas and opinions and eventually come to a solution while still defending their country,” Rosenau said.

Lake Oswego High School social studies teacher Andrew Duden said he’s been teaching at his school for about a decade, and his school’s Model U.N. program kicked off in the mid-1990s.

“The real credit for the program goes to a small group of juniors and seniors who coordinate almost all of the logistics,” Duden said.

It is more common for college students to organize the event for high schoolers, said Jim Savard, the Model United Nations Oregon program director.

Five Oregon residents established the Oregon High School International Relations League in 1948, Savard said. The nonprofit organization in 1972 took on the Model U.N. Oregon program.

There are Model United Nations chapters across the globe.

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