On Saturday, May 14, Lyman Moore Middle School will host a middle school Model United Nations conference, chaired by students from Bates College.
About 50 students will be participating, said social studies teacher David Hilton, who co-chairs the school’s Model United Nations Team with English teacher Tyler Jellison. Most will be Moore students but students from Greater Portland Christian School and Wagner Middle School in Winterport will join them. The event will take place at the school, located at 171 Auburn Street, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“There will be a UNESCO session on equitable education and human capital flight and a Security Council session on the topics of weapons proliferation and surveillance,” Hilton said. “Kids have researched their assigned countries over the past few weeks and have written background papers on two of the topics from their country's perspective.” Four Bates College Model UN club members wrote the background guides and will chair the sessions, he said.
The college students have worked closely with Hilton and Jellison since May 2021, when Moore and Bates held a hybrid conference together.
Moore’s club has been in existence since 2014. Moore school students used to attend a three-day, two-night conference at the University of Southern Maine, competing and collaborating with students from around the state. “It was a highlight of the middle school experience for our students,” Hilton said. However, in 2020, the conference decided to limit participation to high school students, he said.
“Since that time,” Hilton said, “we've been trying to find a path forward for the team.” That led to the collaboration with Bates and last year’s hybrid conference, which Hilton said was a huge success. “We had 15 students come together to tackle child labor and genetic engineering, representing 15 nations in a problem-solving effort. They successfully passed two resolutions,” he said.
That event helped set the stage for the conference this year, which Moore seventh-grader Omari Brent said is proving to be a valuable learning experience.
“I am excited to learn more about countries worldwide and to learn more about issues that I don’t really get information on in my normal social studies class and I might not even know or hear about,” Omari said. “I learned a lot about the Chinese education system, which is pretty interesting to learn about, and I’ve been surrounded by people who know about these topics and I feel like I know a little more outside the Maine bubble about how the world works.”
Omari added, “I am also excited because this is the first school thing I’ve done outside of a math or track meet and I get to dress up. It is going to be fun to say my opinions and share what I’ve written.”
Jellison said, "I hope that this conference is a stepping stone to building a yearly middle school conference with multiple schools participating from around the state, hosted by Bates College."
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.