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the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

Falcons to head to Columbia’s Model UN

The famed trip to New York City is set for January 11, and it is one of our school’s finest (and most fun) endeavors.
Bode LaBelle
Pictured is last year’s delegation to the Model UN. In the background is the United Nations actual meeting room in New York City.

On January 11th, Spanish Teacher Mrs. Kaleen Nora and Mandarin Teacher Mr. Jack Mazzarelli will lead a handful of Saint Stephens to attend the Columbia Model United Nations Conference and Exposition (“CMUNCE”) at the beautiful Columbia University in New York City. 

The attending students this year will be Jake Seubert, Bode LaBelle, George Frano, Anthony Sorrento, Milaan Smith, Angelique Londeree, Lucy Anderson, Chloe Zhang, Laila Yavalar, and Amari Clark. 

During the “Model UN,” students will compete with students from across the country in simulations modeled on the business of the United Nations.

The purpose of CMUNCE is to simulate how an actual UN Conference would play out. At CMUNCE, high schoolers act as “delegates” during simulated scenarios and crises, both historical, contemporary, and fictional. 

Model UN is so beneficial for students that attend because they get to develop real-world skills, have fun within their committee, and meet new people. Participants also become much closer to classmates they travel with. 

Mrs. Nora explained why the program is crucial for students to attend.

CMUNCE is important because it introduces students to international affairs and where we fit into the world. It also helps with public speaking, writing and research, all of which are advantages as students move through life.” 

Nora added, “Students should do CMUNCE as they get to practice their leadership and negotiation skills, as well as meet other students from around the country and world. Most importantly, CMUNCE is fun!”

And she’s right.  One fun aspect of participating in a Model UN conference is that you are “responsible” for creating and implementing serious bills and laws that will impact your nation. You also make alliances with others and try not to cause any problems with the other delegates. 

Another potential route for delegates is to try to cause as much chaos as possible in your committee. 

For example, a delegate could threaten to attack a nation, or create new allies, or form aggressive laws. In other words, the participant can choose what they want to do in their Model UN experience.

Former Falcon and Model UN participant, Joshua Sket from the class of 2023, would agree with this claim. For his UN committee as a member of the Czechian government, he caused some trouble. 

“I wrote multiple letters to other nations and established treaties and other agreements. I also made it so children under the age of 18 were allowed to enlist in the military.”

During last year’s conference, I represented Maxwell D. Taylor, the former US ambassador, in a committee that was discussing the upcoming threats of the Vietnam War. 

I found that the committee simulation can quickly escalate beyond reality. In my committee, the US was eventually taken over by Communists due to infiltration of secret Russian agents in our committee. 

When you go on a trip that lasts for four days, it is inevitable that you will become closer with the people you travel with and the people in your committee.

Junior Laila Yavalar shared that her favorite thing about CMUNCE was creating new friendships.

“The most fun thing about Model UN was being able to meet a bunch of other students from different areas. Also hanging out with some kids from our school who I really wasn’t close with and became close with after.”

For the people that have attended CMUNCE, new friendships and skills will be a cornerstone of their high school years, alongside stories and memories of the fun they had in New York City that will last a lifetime. 

Good luck to our delegates this year.  Come home with a gavel!


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About the Contributor
Bode LaBelle, Staff Writer, Sport Updater
Bode LaBelle is a Junior and this is his first year writing for the Gauntlet. His alternate role is as the sports writer who edits the scores of the Falcons’ sports games on  the Gauntlet. His favorite music artist is Kanye West, his favorite tv show is Breaking Bad and his favorite movie is Inglourious Basterds.


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  • Mr. TrampleasureJan 10, 2024 at 10:36 pm

    Congrats to our delegates!
    I was in Model UN back in the days of apartheid South Africa. We passed a resolution to kick South Africa out. The adults said, essentially, ‘good work, but the students representing South Africa worked hard preparing to be here, so you can’t kick them out.’ Seemed fair.