The Palmetto Senior High School Model United Nations club hosted Miami-Dade County’s first-ever high school Model United Nations conference, PantherMUN 2015, for local middle school teams.
The conference goal was to expose middle school students to pressing world issues and foster greater global awareness through a professional United Nations simulation. It took place on the Palmetto High School campus and was affiliated with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). A total of $969 was donated by delegates, along with school admittance fees, to the U.SFund for UNICEF.
Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and UNICEF representative Cynthia Valdez spoke during opening ceremonies.
“PantherMUN 2015 was quite an impressive undertaking and I congratulate them on hosting such a well organized and highly successful event,” said Mayor Lerner. “They have made tremendous strides over the past few years in building their chapter and engaging so many students to participate to a point where they could organize such a great conference.”
Sixty-seven middle school delegates from four schools across the district attended the conference in the role of international delegates to the UN, comprising four committees that debated on the real UNICEF topics of ethics in quarantine, eradication of polio and malaria, and the distribution of affordable pharmaceuticals. Each committee consisted of approximately nine countries, with two students per country.
“We wish to express our profound gratitude to PantherMUN for hosting the first Panther Model United Nations for middle schools in Miami-Dade County,” said Miami Lakes Middle School advisor Lisa Deyarza. “It takes a huge effort to organize an educational program such as this and we truly appreciate their effort.”
Key student organizers included PantherMUN secretary general Jeffrey Li, director general Julian Mayorga, treasurer Gabriela Aklepi and committee director Michael Choi, who also serves as club vice president. Teacher Armando Gonzalez served as club interim sponsor and Palmetto principal Dr. Allison Harley and assistant principals Bridgette Tate, Victoria Dobbs and Tierney Hunter were instrumental in coordination.
“There are already a lot of conferences on the high school and college Model United Nations circuit, but although some middle schools like Palmetto Middle have Model United Nations, they’ve held very few conferences,” said Li. “What we really wanted to do with this conference was bring this unique experience to middle school students to better prepare them to engage in this kind of commerce and garner greater interest earlier on.”
Not content to rest on their accomplishments, PantherMUN members have already set their sights on next year’s conference, which they hope will include schools outside of Miami-Dade County. According to Li, all progress they make will contribute to their club’s “comeback legacy.”
“Just two years ago, when the current leadership and I joined as freshmen, we inherited a club on the verge of being disbanded by our school administration,” Li said. “The fact is that in two short years we managed to raise money and rebuild our club from a negative bank account and is something we’re very proud of.”
For more information, visit www.PantherMUN.org.