CBA Connects with Area Middle Schools for Model UN Conference
November 25, 2019
Over 130 middle school students from 11 schools across New Jersey descended on Christian Brothers Academy as part of the seventh annual Middle School Model United Nations Conference on Friday, November 22nd.
While the conference lasts just about five hours on a Friday in November, there happens to be months worth of planning that goes into the event, led by CBA Model UN moderator Dr. John Gustavsen and senior Tom Schultz, who served as secretary general.
Preparation for the conference began last summer with CBA students choosing committees and preparing background guides for the middle school delegates. This year’s committees dealt with topics such as European Refugee Crisis, Versailles Peace Conference, Russian Invasion of Crimea, Ocean Pollution and more.
Perhaps one of the most unique things about the conference preparation is that Dr. Gustavsen and CBA Model UN students visit many of the middle schools prior to the event. Their visits are a great way to connect with the middle school students on a more personal level, allowing the students to feel more comfortable when they arrive for the event. The CBA group also helps teach research skills to prepare arguments for the conference.
Overall, about 60 Academy men helped organize and run the 2019 conference, including senior leaders Schultz, Nicholas Libertucci, Grant D’Orsi, Mason Garber. Schultz, along with fellow senior Cameron Acken, has participated in every Middle School Model UN Conference at CBA. His first experience came as a sixth grade participant from St. Leo the Great School in Lincroft.
“The event has definitely gotten bigger over the past seven years,” Schultz said. “Being able to witness its growth from the first year to now, that has been pretty cool.”
While humble about his role in the event, Schultz’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.
“It’s really nice to see these seniors – as well as some underclassmen who have participated at both levels – working to help younger students reap the benefits of this conference,” Gustavsen said. “I can squarely say that without Tom, this year’s conference would not even have been possible. He singularly did the work of about a dozen students.”
The conference has its trademark opening ceremony, where a keynote speaker touches on relevant topics that the students have spoken about in Model UN. This year, Jarred Barnes, who currently serves as the capital campaign manager for the Greater Philadelphia YMCA, was the conference’s featured guest.
Most notably, Barnes had experience as a youth representative at the United Nations in New York City. For the better part of a year, he traveled to the UN once a month to be a youth representative for the Triglav Circle. The Triglav Circle is a non-governmental organization that has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to participate in various activities of the UN.
The conference also presents a closing ceremony, where prizes are awarded for those students who best argued their positions in each committee. After the tally, Oak Hill Academy from Lincroft won the Best Delegation Award, while Stuart Day School from Princeton won the Best Small Delegation Award.
As he concluded his seventh and final conference, Schultz can attest to the impact that both middle school and high school Model UN have had on him.
“Being involved in Model UN, it has definitely made me more interested global politics,” Schultz said. “International politics is something I am considering as my major [in college]. That interest is thanks to my Model UN experience.”