The Model United Nations program at Cape Coral High School, led by sponsor and teacher Mike Cook, was recently named best delegation at the Boston Invitational Model UN Conference. The event, hosted by Boston University, was attended by more than 1,200 students, and this year's competitors included those from high schools in Ghana, Mexico and China.
Of the 24 students from Cape High competing in the event, 20 won individual awards.
Students involved in the program include freshmen Emily Mavarkis, Alexis R. Paltzer, Evan Thomas, Gabrielle Grilli, Syed Fuad Adnan; and sophomores Jonathan Robert Levy, Andres Jesus Lazzizzera, Nathalie Vanessa Rodriguez, Alexandra Grace Mackey, Riley Elizabeth Grogan, Julia Louise Taylor. Juniors included Myra Afua Adu-Sarkodie, Amna Taskeen Tarique Hayat, Dyystian Alex Sicard, Sarim Syed Ahmed and Oscar Garcia-Vasquez.
The members of the Cape Coral High School Model UN team show off their awards.
Seniors include Evan Hali Moore, Marco Antonio Lazzizzera, Shormista Kar, John Christian Levenhagen, Kevin Blake Wells, Ethan Scott Jermy, Ieva Girdvainyte and Caroline Gomez.
"Most of the successful programs around the country operate as a class. Our kids do this as an extra-curricular activity, meaning interest is the primary motivation. In order to prepare for a conference like this one, students have to commit to a substantial amount of research. This is on top of an already extensive course load," Cook said.
"One of the factors that has always given me great pride has been that our kids were always the most knowledgeable delegates, meaning they put in the most work to get prepared."
"In nine years, Cape High Model UN has grown from a small after-school club into a national powerhouse," said student Evan Moore, who wrote a synopsis of the event. "The recent win marks the third time the team has won at the Boston Conference (also 2008 and 2010). Last year the team travelled to Washington, D.C., and received best delegation at the Washington Area Model United Nations Conference, a similarly large and competitive event. In addition to the international conferences, the club has won first place at the Old City Model UN Conference (St. Augustine) for the past five years in a row."
"We're all so proud of our Model UN Team," said Cape High Principal Matt Mederios. "They continue to do an outstanding job and are excellent representatives of our school and Lee County."
Model UN is an academic debate club that simulates real committees in the United Nations. Participants are assigned a country to represent, and must argue on behalf of their country's policy to reach a consensus with the other nations being represented. Debate topics are usually current, unsolved problems, such as unrest in the Middle East, humanitarian aid assistance and management of the global economy.
Model UN "season" is typically from November to March, but for the club at Cape High, Model UN is a year-round activity.
"The Cape team attends three to four conferences per year, organizes multiple 'mock-conferences' for beginning members and even hosts a conference itself in January that draws many local schools," Moore said. "Currently the group is preparing a golf tournament fund-raiser to take place on April 15, the benefits of which will go toward supporting the costs that are incurred with such an ambitious conference schedule."
Cape students also just returned from the highly competitive SWFL Model UN Conference at FGCU, where they met nationally ranked Gulf Coast High School and Port Charlotte High School (ranked #10 and #3, respectively). Cape High's club received a third place delegation award, finishing only behind Port Charlotte, who won both the first and second place delegation awards.
"I am so proud of what these kids accomplished. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that our public schools are failing," said Cook. "When our students competed against the best and brightest from around the world, including elite private schools, the kids from Cape High came out looking great.
"I am most proud of the culture that has developed within the club," he continued. "Being involved in our Model UN program is quite challenging. The research is difficult and the whole process is pretty abstract. The older kids have done a great job training the younger members. More importantly, they have instilled an expectation of success. Several alumni have gone onto some amazing universities. This has helped to inspire a higher level of future expectations. I have no doubt that allowing these great kids to come together allows for them to gain inspiration from one another."