• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCMS named ‘Delegation of Excellence’ at KUNA

A DELEGATION OF STUDENTS from Woodford County Middle School represented the Republic of Kiribati at the Kentucky United Nations Assembly in Louisville on March 19, 20 and 21. From left are student-ambassadors Lucas Jones, Madison Ryker, Meghan Denton, Dorrah Martin, Garret Cheek, Mason Mefford, Will Dowdell, Cayce Jones, Julia Hill, Bryan Birch, Emelia Sprinkle and David Clark. (Photo submitted)

Students from Woodford County Middle School won several awards, while also being named a “Delegation of Excellence” at the Kentucky United Nations Assembly in Louisville on March 19, 20 and 21. WCMS student-ambassadors represented the Republic of Kiribati, which gave them an opportunity to learn about a tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean at this year’s Kentucky United Nations Assembly (KUNA) conference. “The biggest thing with KUNA is you’re learning about other cultures besides your own,” WCMS social studies teacher Tyler Murphy said. “So it’s helping you gain some global perspective. Because not only are you learning about your country that you’re researching,” but students learn about other countries by interacting with student-ambassadors from other middle schools in “a global village.” “And (every student) is an ambassador who participates in committee meetings and summit meetings so everyone has a chance to get up and speak,” he continued. “Even if they’re not presenting a resolution, they can speak for or against other resolutions, or they can ask questions about other resolutions.” WCMS eighth-graders David Clark and Mason Mefford both received an Outstanding Speaker Award after presenting a resolution on their delegation’s concerns about rising ocean levels in the Pacific. Their resolution expressed urgency for addressing this climate change issue while arguing “that the lives of every person in the Republic of Kiribati could be lost or displaced if the world community does not act soon.” “We needed to make the (other) people (at the conference) understand how much trouble our island nation was in,” said Mason, 14. The resolution shedding light on the danger of this island nation being under water in the next 50 to 100 years was passed by the full KUNA conference and endorsed by the Secretary General. The strength of the resolution, which Murphy described as well-written and well-researched, and the strength of the presentation allowed its passage and endorsement at KUNA, he said. It marked the second consecutive year when a delegation of WCMS students (last year they represented Sweden) had their resolution passed and endorsed, but does not diminish the significant accomplishment of the first-time resolution authors, David Clark and Mason Mefford. “I’ve never had two students from one delegation receive Outstanding Speaker awards,” said Murphy. “…For a delegation of our size (12 students) to have two outstanding speakers is incredible.” He credited the work ethic of his student-ambassadors and their willingness to commit “the time outside of class” for allowing them to have a successful KUNA conference. As her school’s Outstanding Ambassador, WCMS seventh-grader Emelia Sprinkle was a leader in terms of putting in the necessary time to prepare her delegation before and after the conference, Murphy said. He has now taken a delegation of WCMS students to KUNA for four years. “It’s something that the kids truly benefit from – not just in preparation for the conference, not just at the conference, but even afterwards,” Murphy said. Looking back on his KUNA experience, Mason said being able to represent a little-known country like Kiribati as “more of a fun challenge.” And he enjoyed engaging in civil debate with other middle school students from across the state. “This was just a whole new experience for us and other people around us,” said David, 14. Sponsored by the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association, the annual KUNA conference allows students from across the state to participate in simulated international diplomacy.

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