Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 8:44 am | Fair 56º


Santa Barbara Montessori Students Test Their Diplomatic Skills

Erdkinder class negotiates halls of United Nations, perils of Manhattan snowstorm.

Santa Barbara Montessori School students go with the snow during their trip to New York for the Montessori Model United Nations program. After meeting with world leaders, the class will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with a national one who's more of a local, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara Montessori School students go with the snow during their trip to New York for the Montessori Model United Nations program. After meeting with world leaders, the class will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with a national one who’s more of a local, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. (Allwyn Fitzpatrick photo)

Undeterred by the massive snowstorm on the East Coast, Santa Barbara Montessori School’s Erdkinder students (junior high) arrived at the United Nations in New York to participate in the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) program. The snowstorm hasn’t kept the students away from U.N. headquarters, where they’ll work the entire week regardless of the weather.

Months of preparation have provided each student with information they’ll present during meetings of member nations in U.N. headquarters. SBMS’s students, along with other Montessori students from across the United States, will be representing member nations of the world organization. Explains the group’s teacher, Allwyn Fitzpatrick,

“The Model United Nations program has been developed over the past 25 years, and more recently coordinated with Montessori schools from across the country,” said Allwyn Fitzpatrick, the teacher who leads the program at Santa Barbara Montessori School. “It’s not ‘pretend,’ it’s not about the children ‘pretending’ they’re representatives from the different countries. All of their preparation has to do with real information, the real circumstances of the country they’re representing, and the real issues of the day.

“The whole experience will be very genuine, especially since we’ll be in the United Nations headquarters.”

Interestingly, the group’s eastward travels will not be limited to the U.N. experience. After four days in New York the students will travel by train to Washington, D.C., to continue their studies.

“We’ve been taking our Erdkinder students to the capital for the past eight years, and one of our highlights each trip is meeting with Rep. Lois Capps,” Fitzpatrick said. “She has always been very gracious with our group and spends time with us answering their questions and seeking their input.

“But this is the first time we’ll be meeting with a Democrat in the White House, and her entire staff seems really energized with the change in the administration.”

The group’s itinerary in Washington includes visits to the Smithsonian museums, Ford’s Theatre, the Capitol building, the Library of Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the monuments featuring our nation’s heroes in stone.

Hopeful that the weather warms up, Fitzpatrick noted, “Trips like this one always seem to bring out experiences that validate our classroom studies, but there isn’t really a way to successfully prepare for the impact of visiting the Vietnam (Veterans) Memorial at night, or going through the Holocaust Museum. There are emotions that make history and government ‘real,’ and that’s what we’re after.”

Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Montessori School, 7421 Mirano Drive.

Jim Fitzpatrick is head of Santa Barbara Montessori School.

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