• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCMS named 'Delegation of Excellence' at KUNA

FOR A THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR, Woodford County Middle School was named a Delegation of Excellence at the Kentucky United Nations Assembly in Louisville. Front, from left, are Isaiah Lester, Zach Stiefel and Garrett Cheek; second row, Saige Miracle, Karigan Smith, Shelbi Morrison, Skyler Pelzer and Caroline Miller; third row, Kendall Maupin, Mason Mefford, Lucas Jones, Elizabeth Edwards, Emelia Sprinkle and Lacey Scott; back row, Cayce Jones, Zia Luchtefeld, Logan Craig, Connor Gililland, Hunter Penn, Nicholas Crowe and Ryan Alvey. (Photo submitted)

A delegation of 21 students from Woodford County Middle School spent three days serving as ambassadors of Sweden during the Kentucky United Nations Assembly in Louisville on March 6, 7, and 8. In addition to being named a Delegation of Excellence for a third straight year, WCMS received "Outstanding Cultural Attire" and "Delegation of Excellence" awards. Sponsored by the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association, the annual KUNA conference allows student-delegates from across the state to participate in simulated international diplomacy. "Not only are they learning about the culture of their assigned country," explained WCMS social studies teacher Tyler Murphy, "but when we go they're also being exposed to delegates who have learned about other countries and other parts of world and other cultures - that's a true learning experience for them." In addition to learning from their peers, Murphy's students are building relationships and developing valuable communication skills. "It really opens up your mind and your thinking," said WCMS seventh-grader Mason Mefford. He was named an Outstanding Speaker in his first year at KUNA. To prepare for the conference, WCMS students did a lot of research to gain an understanding of Sweden's culture, politics and issues affecting the country. They also prepared for their resolution speeches and how to debate issues facing other countries. WCMS eighth-grader Logan Craig described KUNA as "an interaction with lots of kids across Kentucky to be able to really address world problems." Besides being recognized as an Outstanding Speaker at this year's KUNA conference, Logan's resolution on the refugee crisis in Syria and other nearby countries was a Delegates' Choice. His resolution called upon other countries to follow Sweden's lead by creating programs to help refugees affected by conflicts. Logan's resolution was one of only three resolutions debated by the entire 700-delegate General Assembly. It passed overwhelmingly and was named Outstanding Resolution of the entire conference. WCMS eighth-grader Caroline Miller received her student-delegation's Outstanding Ambassador award. She took on a leadership role in preparing her delegation's cultural display, which was an opportunity for WCMS student-delegates to give other delegations a deeper understanding of Sweden. Their model of a bridge - spanning five miles to connect Sweden and Denmark - helped students gain an appreciation for its immense size, according to Murphy. "They literally made a suspension bridge . held up by its own weight," he said. WCHS freshman Zia Luchtefeld served as secretary-general of this year's Kentucky United National Assembly after being elected to the position last year as an eight-grader at WCMS. "We're all really happy that she was able to take on this role," said Logan, who has participated in KUNA during his three years at WCMS. ".She's a good leader and she's a good communicator, and I feel like she executed her role (at this conference) very well." Students from Woodford County Middle School represented the United Kingdom and Somalia during their previous KUNA conferences. "I want them to see both perspectives - an advanced, developed country and developing countries that are having some challenges," said Murphy. He said his students are successful at KUNA because they are very prepared and also involved in the decision-making process while getting ready to represent their country at the conference.

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