Haverhill High School’s Model United Nations team is soaring.
In December, the team participated in Boston College’s inaugural Model U.N. conference for high schools. Competing against a slew of strong teams — including Catholic Memorial, Duxbury Academy, St. John’s Prep, St. John’s High School, Westwood Academy, Boston College High School and other schools — Haverhill shocked the conference by taking first place (Outstanding Delegation) for delegations of 20 students or fewer. Most of the teams competed in that category.
More recently, Haverhill High’s team competed against Whittier Regional High, North Andover High, Reading High, Timberlane Regional, and Lowell High at a Model U.N. Conference early last month at UMass Lowell.
Whittier won the competition for the last five years, but this year Haverhill High took first place, winning nine out of 15 awards, including Best Delegation.
”The competition at these events is intense,” said Zachary Simmons, Haverhill High international relations teacher and Model U.N. team advisor . “The teams debated topics like human trafficking, foreign aid to developing nations, nuclear proliferation and obesity.”
Simmons created Haverhill High’s international relations program in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The class is generally for juniors and seniors and looks at how countries, governments, organizations and people interact with each other on a global scale.
Junior Ryan Dekeon, the team’s head delegate at both the Boston College and UMass events, put in long hours pushing and training the team. He said the experience helped him become a better public speaker and researcher and has boosted his ability to work with new people.
”Most importantly, I am going into business (studies) in college, and Model U.N. is about consensus building, which is vital in business,” Dekeon said.
Although Dekeon has never taken the international relations class, many students on the team have taken it several times. Senior Dan Burrows took it twice, noting that the class “gives you an international prospective that’s unbiased.”