On 23 February the West Virginia Senate recognized the James Monroe High School
(JMHS) Model United Nations debate team for its excellence at the 70 th Annual Harvard Model
UN Conference in Boston Massachusetts on 25 – 29 January 2023. Senators Jack Woodrum and
Vince Deeds organized the event and authored the proclamation. On 7 March 2023 the Monroe
County Board of Education also honored the team for this achievement. The team included
Shane Arthur, Emily Bailey, Emma Ballard, Braydie Carr, Luke Fraley, Michael Fraley, Luke
Jackson, Sadie Maxey, Thomas Sibold, Cole Thomas, Katherine Viars, and Bryceson Whitt. This
was the third time JMHS has been selected for this prestigious event, having also participated in
2020 and 2022. JMHS is the only high school from West Virginia that has been selected to
participate in this conference in recent history, and possibly ever since it started in 1953.
In Model UN debate student delegates represent a country assigned to them and work
with other delegates to develop solutions to problems as diverse as public health disparities,
cybercrime and cyberwarfare, globalization, impact of economic sanctions, genetic modification,
nuclear arms proliferation, weaponization of space, unexploded ordnance disposal, and
persecution of ethnic minorities. Assigned the Balkan country of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the
Mavericks researched its culture and politics and expressed the country’s position on the
problem assigned to their committees. Next, they sought like-minded allies and began the
process of developing and debating solutions to the problem via a draft UN Resolution.
The trip was not all conference, and the students had the opportunity to experience some
of Boston’s rich history, including a portion of the Freedom Trail with Boston Common, the 54 th
Massachusetts Infantry monument, the burial places of Paul Revere and John Hancock, the site
of the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s House, Old North Church, and Boston
Harbor. The group also visited Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The students joined over 4,000 other high school students from across the United States
and overseas, including elite private schools and those that offer Model UN as a course of study
rather than a club. Acceptance into this highly competitive debate competition is an
acknowledgement of the excellence of our students in the YLA Model United Nations program.
Although Model United Nations is not a class at JMHS as it is in some other high
schools, the students gain valuable academic experience in research, critical thinking, logic,
written and verbal communication, and empathy by participating in it. The debate competition is
not funded by Harvard and would not have been possible without the generosity of the Monroe
County Board of Education, which approved funds from the school levy to assist with the trip,
and that of the parents who allowed their children to travel and paid for a portion of the trip.
Future plans for the Maverick Model UN program include hosting a local conference,
participating in a revived YLA Model UN program in Charleston, and a return to Model UN
Conferences in Atlanta and Boston next year. If you wish to contribute time, expertise, or funds
to this endeavor please contact the Maverick Debate Coach, Dr. Scott Womack, at 304-753-
5182, on Facebook Messenger, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.