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Oasis High MUN team fares well in competition

By Staff | Nov 21, 2011

The Oasis Model United Nations team recently brought back 10 individual awards, along with the second highest school ranking, at the Florida State Old City Model United Nations Conference in St. Augustine last weekend.

There were more than 130 students, including 12 students from Oasis High School, from 14 MUN Florida schools who participated in the three-day conference. The students had one debating session Friday, three sessions on Saturday and one session on Sunday.

The Oasis team, which consisted of one senior, four juniors, four sophomores and three freshman, returned from their trip late Sunday night.

Peter Ndiang’ui, social studies teacher and Model United Nations advisor, said everyone who attended the conference was a winner.

“Their passion for MUN is very great,” he said about his students.

First place winners were Tyler Hollis and Devin Backhaus; second place winners were Zachary Peralto, Johana Gonzalez, Ciara Bennese and Blake Pentland; and the third place winner was Claudia Sanchez.

Hollis, who is a senior, joined the MUN team last year after he moved to the area from California.

“It was fun,” he said about the conference. “It is very good for public speaking.”

Backhaus, who took a year off of MUN last year, joined the club again this year as a junior. He said he will continue to be a member of the club until he graduates from Oasis High School.

After Ndiang’ui talked him into joining the club again, he remembered that he enjoyed all of the debating that took place during the conferences.

Backhaus said his council was the most heated during the conference because it was his way or no way.

“You have to stand your ground no matter what,” he said, when he debates specific issues during the conference.

Ndiang’ui said Backhaus received the second highest score in all of the committees during the Florida State Old City MUN Conference.

Gonzalez, who is a junior, said the conference was the most fun and informative conference that she has been to. She said the teams’ debating skills had improved over the three days.

“The debating that we did, I didn’t see at any other conference,” Gonzalez said about the teams’ efforts.

She said she has seen the club grow since her freshman year.

“There is so much in store for us,” Gonzalez said about the team.

Bennese, a sophomore, said she loves being a part of the MUN team and joined because she wanted to do something productive with her ability to argue and her loud voice.

“I love it because I get to be around people like me, who have similar interests and care about stuff like me,” she said.

Bennese continues to use what she learned from her first conference because of the students who inspired her because they demanded attention with their hands.

The gavel, which is given to the students who contribute the most deliberations, was awarded to Hollis and Toby Williams.

Williams, a junior, said he loves MUN because he likes to argue. He said when he presents his case during the conference it helps in building his communication skills.

“You react quickly with everything you say,” Williams said.

Out of 11 or 12 conferences that he has attended, he said the St. Augustine conference this past weekend was his favorite.

“It was the most competitive debate,” Williams said.

He said he’s happy with the two awards that he received at the conference because it shows his hard work paid off.

Sanchez, who is a freshman, said the St. Augustine event was her favorite conference as well because of the debates that took place between USA and China. She said she had to think on her feet, so she could represent Brazil well.

The other delegates who scored well, but did not receive an award, included Jenna Burgess, Nadine Joseph, Anisha Pednekar and Nicole Ospina.

The MUN team was the first club Pednekar joined when she became a freshman at Oasis High School this year.

The biggest thing that Pednekar took away from her first conference was to have more confidence in herself.

“At the beginning I wasn’t confident in speaking,” she said, which changed towards the end of the conference when she made her voice be heard more. “I have to be confident when I walk in there … do it from the beginning.”

“She did extremely well … a lot of potential,” Ndiang’ui said.

Ospina, another junior, also became more confident during the conference this past weekend. She said the last two conferences that she attended she never spoke, which changed last weekend when she voiced her opinion more.

Oasis Middle School 8th grade math teacher Analee Kirner was drafted by Ndiang’ui this year to work with the 8th grade students before they enter high school and take part in the high school MUN team. She said he chose her to be a MUN coach because she lived in Africa for a year and has a passion for the issues that are brought forth during the conferences.

“It’s a good club,” Kirner said.

Right now Kirner has nine students in her middle school club. The high school MUN team is currently training the 8th grade students, so they can prepare them for what lies ahead when they attend conferences.

Kirner was pleasantly surprised by what she saw during the first conference she attended in St. Augustine.

“They blew me out of the water,” she said about the students. “They were the most well prepared kids that I saw.”

She said the students earned her respect due to their maturity, their ability to stay on task and their capability of dominating their debate.

“My standards have raised for them,” Kirner said, because she saw their capabilities.

“They are some of the brightest kids I have ever worked with.”

The next MUN conference will be held at Cape Coral High School Jan. 13-14.