• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCHS named Delegation of Excellence at KUNA

DELEGATES FROM WCHS won several awards while being named a Delegation of Excellence at the Kentucky United Nations Assembly in Louisville. Front, from left, are Abigail Mortell, Erin Lawson, Tessa Brengelman, Maggie Carney, Emmanuel Hernandez and Ryan Alvey; back, Emily Melcher, Parker Raybourne, Eric Allison, Logan Craig and Carter Smith. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

A delegation of 29 students from Woodford County High School was named a Delegation of Excellence while winning several awards at the Kentucky United Nations Assembly (KUNA) in Louisville. More than 800 students representing 35 high schools attended the KUNA conference, sponsored by the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association. Students participate in simulated international diplomacy at KUNA. "It's really good at opening your mind to a lot of different beliefs and a lot of different topics," said WCHS freshman Logan Craig. He appreciates having an opportunity to solve global issues while working with other high school students from across the state. "It actually made me realize (international affairs and relations) is the field I want to go into when I graduate high school," said WCHS sophomore Erin Lawson, 16. WCHS junior Parker Raybourne was elected to the KUNA Presiding Officer Team and as president of next year's General Assembly. He credits a willingness "to talk to as many people as possible" for helping him win his elected seats. Parker will participate in YMCA leadership training over the next year to prepare for his role as presiding officer of next year's KUNA General Assembly. Abigail Mortell won the Outstanding Advocate Award for the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The 16-year-old WCHS sophomore and Carter Smith, also a sophomore, served as lawyers arguing a case on behalf of the Russian Federation and Serbia. "I definitely think the judicial branch is the one that I love working in because it's debating," said Abigail. She also likes the challenge of being asked to "answer hypothetical questions." Both Abigail and Carter, who had not participated in a KUNA conference before this year, gained valuable life skills while making their point of view heard when debating issues. "I would definitely come back to KUNA," said Carter, 15. "I'm not sure if I'm going to do ICJ next year. It's a ton of work." "It's very grueling," agreed Mortell. Being able to represent Germany in KUNA's Security Council was an opportunity for Emily Melcher to form alliances while focusing on international relations and working through three issues: peaceful space exploration, maritime law and the immigration crisis in the Middle East. She had fallen in love with the collaborative process of working through serious issues with student-delegates representing other countries at last year's KUNA conference. While Emily wants to pursue a career in a medical field or the sciences, the WCHS sophomore said, "I still love doing the government stuff. Government, it plays such a big role in all of our lives and so it's fun to get involved with it." A resolution from a Germany team of WCHS students Eric Allison, Erin Lawson, Maggie Carney and Logan Craig seeking to implement cultural immersion programs in refugee camps was debated and passed by the full General Assembly. "That's what we were hoping to accomplish with (our resolution). Just help (with) the cultural barrier between refugees and the citizens of the country they're going to," explained Erin. While developing a resolution deemed as having the most global impact by KUNA's Secretary General, Erin and her team learned that crime rates in Germany were going up - not only because of crimes committed against refugees, but also crimes committed by refugees. "So that made me realize that the refugees weren't completely blameless," said Erin, "but that's where the cultural barrier comes back into play." In comparing the refugee policies of Germany and United States, 15-year-old WCHS freshman Eric Allison said, "They've taken in over a million refugees. We've taken only 100,000. "They've taken in a lot." In addition to the student awards and accomplishments at this year's March 23 to 25 KUNA conference, WCHS social studies teacher Sioux Finney was inducted into the YMCA Advisor Hall of Fame. The former Woodford County Middle School teacher was nominated for the recognition by students in Woodford County High School's Y-Club, many of whom were members of the middle school's Y-Club when Finney was its sponsor. "I am humbled and blessed to work with these incredible civic leaders," Finney wrote in an email.

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