HHS Model UN Touts Another Year of Achievement

In this 2014 photo, student delegates and the Model UN adviser enjoy a visit with Hans Gieskes, left, honorary consul for the Netherlands. They are Ryan Dekeon, head delegate for Model UN; teacher Zachary N. Simmons, Model UN adviser; Andrew Morphill, Model UN delegate; Alejandro Lopez, head delegate for HillieMUN (Middle School Model UN at HHS); and Rashaun Martin, district curriculum supervisor for Social Studies/History and Foreign Languages.

For the first time in the history of the program, a Haverhill High School graduate will lead the Model United Nations conference at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Next spring, Alejandro Lopez, a member of the HHS Class of 2014, will serve as secretary general of the conference that brings together Model UN teams from a dozen Merrimack Valley-area high schools.

Accomplishments such as Lopez’s are not uncommon for students from the Haverhill High Model UN program, which has a history of achievement on the local, state and national levels.

Social studies teacher Zachary N. Simmons accompanied a group of Model UN student delegates to Thursday’s School Committee meeting to update the board on this year’s program.

Simmons, the Model UN Team adviser, guided his students through national and regional competitions throughout the school year.

In December, student delegates led Haverhill middle school students in the third annual Hillie MUN conference. Middle school student delegates represented various countries, debating positions in several committees.

Lopez created the middle school Hillie MUN conference in his senior year, and in the ensuing years it has become a strong feeder program for the high school Model UN team. Beginning in September, HHS Model UN team members visit the middle schools and work with the younger student delegates on the skills needed for success in the Model UN program.

In March, Haverhill High School sent more than 30 students in two teams to the National High School Model UN Conference at the United Nations in New York City.

Haverhill High School has a long history of success in Model United Nations competition, and graduates of the program often continue in Model UN after they leave HHS.

At the UMass Lowell conference, 13 Haverhill High students competed as representatives of a number of countries, including Russia, Australia, Denmark, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Myanmar. Five Haverhill student ambassadors were voted top representatives in their respective committee assignments: Anna Rossi (first place), Sean O’Leary (second place) and Jon Basile (third place) representing Russia; Sean Cokely (second place), representing Denmark; and Meredith Budds (third place), representing Australia.

To prepare for competition, students research and write a position paper based on their assigned country’s point of view on a current topic. They learn to follow the international rules of debate and collaborate with the students in their committees to write solutions to issues called resolutions.

Lopez said the skills he learned in Haverhill Model UN program – researching, public speaking and leadership – have guided him in college career and inspired his goal of a career in politics.

Sixth-grader Elise Gonsalves may someday follow in Lopez’s footsteps. The Hunking student told the School Committee that she represented Israel in this year’s Hillie MUN conference, and may want to work in politics when she gets older.

HHS Model UN Team alum Ryan Dekeon praised Simmons and Model UN.

“Everything I am as a person and student I attribute to my experience at the HHS Model UN program.”