" Rochelle Zell wasn’t just going to a part of me for four years but for the rest of my life."
By: Christine Won
A group of local students won top honors at the National High School Model United Nations Conference earlier this month.
For the second consecutive year, the Rochelle Zell Jewish High School’s Model U.N. team received the top “Award of Distinction” at the conference that hosted 3,800 students from 150 schools March 2 – 5 in New York City. The 30 members of the Deerfield school’s team range from freshmen to seniors.
“The school is immensely proud of this team,” Model U.N. adviser Joseph Eskin said. “These students are dedicated, hardworking and deeply thoughtful about the complicated world around them.”
Rochelle Zell, formerly the Chicagoland Jewish High School, won one of four first-place honors. In addition to the team award, four Rochelle students also won individual awards. During the conference, students participated in simulations of U.N. sessions including debates, negotiations, caucuses and resolutions that address world problems, according to organizers. Rochelle Zell students represented France in the event. They also met with diplomats at the French mission at the U.N., hearing a presentation on climate change.
Julia Mati, Jason Taitz, Melissa Levin and Josh Pliskin all earned second place honors. Mati, a senior, said she initially joined the school’s Model U.N. team three years ago because she wanted to go to New York City, where the conference was. “But as time I passed, I realized that I had a passion for international relations,” she said. “Model U.N. sparked my interest in politics and foreign affairs, and I now know because of Model U.N. that I want to major in international relations in college.”
Students prepared for the conference by practicing public speaking and debating all the while receiving feedback from their peers, Eskin said. For their specific committees, students conducted extensive research, Eskin said. They spent months learning about the issues, researching previous solutions and producing their own creative solutions to write an in-depth position paper on the topic, organizers said.
“I am so proud of all the hard work these students have put in throughout the year,” Eskin said. “Their ability to work well with students from across the country and around the world was inspiring. It’s gratifying to see their hard work pay off.” Eskin noted placing first two years in a row showed the school has established a reputation of excellence at the conference.
“We are proud to connect our open, engaged, and Jewish community to the ideals of the United Nations,” Eskin said.
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