The bright lights of Broadway weren’t the only things shining in New York City on one magical day in March.
To the utter surprise — and delight — of Brighton High students and advisers, the school’s Model United Nations Team was announced as one of the best at the National High School Model U.N. conference in New York. The conference, which is a teen-student juried simulation of the United Nations, was March 6-9, 2012.
Only nine of the 133 teams hailing from elite high schools from around the world earned “Superior,” “Excellent,” or “Outstanding” status at the end of the competition. Those are the only grades awarded by the judges. Brighton was one of the three delegations that scored high enough to land in the “Excellent” category. Two groups received the “Superior” rating and four received “Outstanding.”
“When they called the name of our school,” said Emilie Callahan, a sophomore member of the team, “we were in shock. We didn’t even scream. We just stood there. It took a few minutes to sink in.”
Senior and club president Sean Whalen, who also is this year’s Wasatch Front Region Sterling Scholar winner in the computer technology category, collected the award on the group’s behalf. The awards were announced at the United Nations’ International Headquarters, the modern-day pantheon of global diplomacy.
The “Excellent” status is quite an accomplishment, considering it was achieved against significant odds. The team, small by any standard, was pitted against teams of 30 or 40 members; some had as many as 100. The strong finish means that each BHS student was judged among the best in their committees.
The students who go to Model U.N. arrive ready to represent the interests of countries or non-government organizations. Judges evaluate the students’ debate and writing skills, and their knowledge of parliamentary procedure and international politics. They also are graded on their negotiation skills as they maneuver proposals and resolutions through committees.
Members of the Brighton team — also made up of senior Frank Gallardo; junior Olivia Esplin; junior Jessica Arthurs; junior Natalie Callahan; and junior Sam Ellis — took in Broadway shows “Wicked,” “Sister Act” and “Mama Mia” while in New York.
“Model U.N. is not everyone’s idea of cool,” said Arthurs, whose older siblings also participated in the training ground for future diplomats, “but it’s my idea of a good time.”