Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 6:40 am | Overcast 64º


Santa Barbara Montessori Students Return to United Nations in NYC

Santa Barbara Montessori School’s seventh- through ninth-graders have arrived at the United Nations in New York City for presentations and debates as part of the 2013 Montessori Model United Nations program, which opened Thursday morning and will continue through Saturday.

Preparations for the MMUN began months ago as the junior high students began their research into a variety of different topics pertaining to specific United Nation member countries.

“For the seventh-grade students, this experience is new for them,” SBMS Head of School Jim Fitzpatrick said, “but for the eighth-graders they’re now returning for a second go-round of debate and presentations because they were introduced to the procedures and the experience last year.”

MMUN students formulate, present, debate and revise positions on current issues that are affecting people of the world. By assuming the perspectives of a citizen of their selected countries, MMUN students not only develop an understanding of the needs and rights of others, but also learn to respect the cultures, the political views and the belief systems of others.

“This year, for the first time, we have ninth-grade students who will participate at the MMUN’s ‘Rapporteur’ level,” Fitzpatrick said. “These students essentially direct all of the daily activities of hundreds of students from around the world who present their positions to their group throughout the day.”

One SBMS student, ninth-grader Samantha Page, is the “rapporteur” for the UNICEF Committee, and she will oversee and direct discussions and presentations focused on eliminating childhood soldiers as well as a discussion of the merits of education for young girls.

Within the UNICEF Committee presentation will be two SBMS student groups, including eighth-graders Colin Daniel, Kelby Pintard, and Gavin Klingensmith, who are presenting their information regarding Colombia in South America. Colombia has serious issues with young children being kidnapped by guerrilla groups, and then being forced to become childhood soldiers. SBMS’ other UNICEF group is seventh-graders Sophia Vraciu and Chad Benedetto, who have researched childhood related issues involving France.

The United Nations’ Economic and Social Council has another ninth-grader heading up that group, “Rapporteur” Evan Schaeffer.

Rep. Lois Capps meets with Santa Barbara Montessori School students in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago. (Santa Barbara Montessori School photo)
Rep. Lois Capps meets with Santa Barbara Montessori School students in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago. (Santa Barbara Montessori School photo)

“Evan will oversee discussions and debates of another 150 students from around the world,” Fitzpatrick said. “That group will include SBMS eighth-graders Clark Cossin and Mateo Luca-Lion, who are making presentations about France and its challenges and successes having to do with micro-finances amidst the ongoing Euro debt crisis.”

Two other SBMS students, Ada Vintar and Emily Jensen, are working within the U.N. Legal Committee, and their report is an update about the death penalty, and also copyright laws and infringements. The final two groups are working under the U.N. World Health Committee’s topics of AIDS and Maternal Health, with Madeleine Price and Dario Bucy working on Colombia, and Tommy Muneio and Holden Corrigan presenting about France.

“All of the students have been preparing for weeks,” Fitzpatrick said. “Actually, it’s been months. Their initial research began in September, with interruptions along the way. In fact, this group just returned two weeks ago from a week-long trek to Washington, D.C., where amongst other stops they were able to meet with the Hon. Lois Capps at the nation’s Capitol. It’s been a busy year, but very productive, and next year the eighth-graders in this group will be able to return as ‘rapporteurs’ themselves. By this time next year these students will direct the daily discussions and debates of several hundred students from around the world.”

During the conference, the rapporteur students have to be able to employ a variety of communication and critical thinking skills in order to represent the policies of their country — public speaking, group communication, research, policy analysis, active listening, negotiating, conflict resolution, note taking, and technical writing — are all part of the total experience. Plus, as delegates they have to look closely at the needs, goals and foreign policies of the countries they represent at the event. The insights they gain from their exploration of history, geography, culture, economics and science contribute to the authenticity of the simulation. For them the total experience is as real as it can be.

“Santa Barbara Montessori School has celebrated United Nations Day each October for more than 35 years,” Fitzpatrick said, “and our junior high classes have been increasing our involvement in the MMUN for the past six years. It’s an incredible opportunity to include the United Nations’ community in our classrooms. Some of our eighth-graders are already talking about next year, and they just arrived in New York on Wednesday for this year’s conference!”

— Jim Fitzpatrick is the head of school for Santa Barbara Montessori School.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >