This past weekend, SCH Upper Schoolers hit the streets (and the Inn hallways) with signature passion and purpose and showcased just how powerful the voice of a high school student can be.
Traveling downtown for the Ivy League Model United Nations Conference (ILMUNC), hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, 20 delegates—along with history department chair Sarah McDowell and teacher James Spagnoletti—attended the 3-day event, which is an international platform for debate and teamwork. Students from around the world were brought together to tackle pressing issues from the past, present, and future with the goal to “inspire future leaders, to promote diplomacy within politics and analyze history to understand the future.”
Closer to home, 200 high schoolers and faculty from over 20 area schools spent their Saturday at the 8th Annual SCHout Diversity Conference at SCH. The event, led by students for students, was a compelling expression of advocacy. Through the keynote speeches, story exchange, and social action workshops, participants were reminded that every voice matters when it comes to effecting change.
Read on for highlights from an eventful weekend at SCH.
This year’s Model UN conference theme was “Hope and Resilience in an Ever-Changing World.” SCH students had prepared for this year’s ILMUNC since the start of the school year, meeting weekly to practice and prepare as well as running their own daylong simulation.
Once on site, students became delegates from assigned nations and served on various Model UN committees such as Disarmament and International Security, the World Health Organization, the Oscars Board of Governors, and Eco-Tourism.
Together with his partner, first-time delegate Roman represented the country of Pakistan on the Eco-tourism Committee. He provided insight into the experience: "We were in a room where 74 countries were sharing their position. At the end of the day, we had to write a resolution, describing how we were going to create programs and incentives to promote eco-tourism. There were a lot of people who were really passionate, and we had to learn how to be assertive and voice our opinions on important topics affecting the world. It was so great to meet new people from all over the country in committee and also explore the city during our free time."
Student Jack Gaghan was on the Jurassic Park committee at ILMUNC XXXIX and was assigned a fictional role from Steven Spielberg's movie. "Roughly once per hour, my fellow delegates and I were forced to resolve a catastrophic event in a matter of minutes," he said. "In order to do so, compromising was necessary. I learned to accept proposals that solved the dilemma even if they did not benefit my character."
Debating sharpened his empathy skills, he said, and attending the conference helped him feel part of a larger community of students "as passionate for Model UN as I am."
“The collective enthusiasm for the Model UN was amazing," said McDowell. "The kids liked it so much they are trying to find another one to go to this spring!”
Over the course of several months, 45 SCH students prepared for their roles at the conference, working as facilitators, running workshops, and organizing this all-inclusive annual event focused around this year’s theme, “Student of the Present, Voices for the Future.”
Dr. Dinkins opened the SCHout Conference, inviting participants to listen, debate, and celebrate.
“Today is a stimulant for change, perhaps a pebble that will have a ripple effect in the lake that is our nation,” he said. “If we're going to be fundamentally committed to change, we must act. It is my hope that today is another step towards empowering individuals, strengthening communities, bridging barriers, creating solutions to social problems, and moving us closer to a future we can be proud of.”
After Dr. Dinkins helped to frame the day’s conversations, students ran the day. Workshops, conceived of and designed by student facilitators, encouraged rich dialogue and complex conversations on topics ranging from the intersectionality of race and socioeconomics to beauty standards on social media. And hundreds of students and faculty members listened as senior DEI leaders delivered the day’s keynote remarks. Each of their brave and personal stories provided powerful takeaways; you can read a few highlights from their moving remarks here:
Tatyana: Whether you’re an outspoken person in your community, or you are a person that lets your social justice live quietly through your actions, you can make change.
Samaya: I preach that we are stronger when together and any amount of change can be made with numbers. So many milestones would have been protected if I had reached out for those numbers earlier instead of believing one was stronger than some.
Kyrie: When you have choices in your hand, what will you do with them? Will you benefit yourself, your families, your community, or the world? What will you do with your choices?
Gabby: I want to encourage you to embark on your journey to make change in your school division. We do not have to accept this reality and can select our own chosen path no matter the odds set against us due to our surroundings.
See more photos from the SCHout Conference here.
[Editor’s Note: A loud SCHout out to those students who participated in BOTH events!]