Holmdel Student Appointed to Lead YMCA Model UN Conference

2014 Secretary General Aidan Byrnes (L), a senior at Red Bank Catholic High school congratulates 2015 Secretary General Jack Chu, a junior at Holmdel High School.
2014 Secretary General Aidan Byrnes (L), a senior at Red Bank Catholic High school congratulates 2015 Secretary General Jack Chu, a junior at Holmdel High School.

Jack Chu of Holmdel High School was recently elected to lead the 2015 YMCA Model UN program. As Secretary General, Jack will be responsible for organizing the 5-state conference, meeting with committee chairs, planning the conference theme, and choosing topics of international importance for the delegates to debate.

Aidan Byrnes, a senior at Red Bank Catholic High School, served as the 2014 YMCA Model UN Secretary General. “The Y is well represented and is so proud of the outstanding work Aidan completed at this year’s conferences and throughout his career with the Model UN,” commented Jackie Normyle, YMCA Teen Development Specialist. “As Aidan passes the gavel on, we look forward to the leadership Jack will bring to the Model UN in 2015.”

Jack and Aidan joined 175 high school and 84 middle school delegates representing The Community YMCA Delegation at the annual YMCA Model UN Conference in Hershey, PA., along with 1,500 additional student delegates from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware.

“We are so proud of Jack’s accomplishments at this year’s conference and to have a Community YMCA Secretary General for a second year in a row,” said Rhonda Anderson, The Community YMCA’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “I am impressed by the intelligence, compassion, and dedication of all our students.”

The goal of the Model UN Program is to create informed students who feel empowered to engender change in their local communities and the world at large. The program attracts students who are proactive and engaged and helps them see how they can reach their potential and begin to improve the world around them, regardless of their age. This year’s conference theme, equal opportunity, was reinforced throughout the weekend.

The Community YMCA Delegation was comprised of 15 local schools, including: Red Bank Catholic High School, Red Bank Regional High School, Holmdel High School, Communications High School, Middletown High School North, Middletown High School South, Mater Dei High School, Wall Intermediate School, Maple Place Middle School, Saint James School, Satz Middle School, Shrewsbury Borough Middle School, Bayshore Middle School, Thompson Middle School, and Thorne Middle School. High school students attended the conference from Jan. 10-12, and middle school students attended from Jan. 17-19.

Students spent their time simulating the duties of United Nations Ambassadors by writing, presenting, and debating resolutions to address issues of international importance, such as global demilitarization, alternative energy, and oppressive government regimes.

The Community YMCA Delegation was recognized with a number of awards at each of the conferences. High School honors went to:

Chris Blair (RBC) was elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the General Assembly.

Logan Ryan (Middletown HS South) was elected as the chair of the World Health Organization.

Andrew Li (Holmdel) was selected to serve as the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as named their Premier Diplomat.

Victoria Ovanesian (RBR) was chosen to serve as the chair of the Arab League.

Bobby Lussier (Middletown HS South) was chosen to serve as the chair of the Nation Building Committee and given the distinction of being elected that committee’s Premier Diplomat.

Cassidy DeStefano (CHS) was elected to serve as the editor-in-chief of the press corps as well as honored with their Premier Diplomat award.

Margaret Svikhart (CHS) was voted to become the editor-in-chief of the video press corps and earned the designation of Premier Diplomat.

Tristan Sweeney (Middletown HS North), Jack Anderson (RBR), and Aisha Bhoori (Middletown HS South) were honored with the Premier Diplomat award for their respective committees: Historical Security Council, Legal Committee, and Security Council.

A number of first time delegates were recognized with the esteemed Outstanding First Year Delegate Award, including: Shivani Kommiredi (Holmdel) from the International Court of Justice, Maeve Byrnes (RBC) from the Social & Humanitarian Committee, Haig Bakhtarian (RBC) from the Arab League, and Anna Bongiorno (RBR) from the video press corps.

Annie Doherty (RBC) was recognized with the outstanding paper award for her pre-conference research.

Jaime Roth (Holmdel HS) and Kaitlin Noel, were honored with the Outstanding Youth Secretariat Award.

Jack Chu (Holmdel HS) and Cassidy DeStefano (CHS) were invited to the highly selective Conference on National Affairs (CONA), which is an invitation-only event held annually in North Carolina that allows students from across the country to come together to debate and discuss issues that affect our nation. Aidan Byrnes (RBC), Ian Rios, and Tristan Sweeney (Middletown HS South) were offered invitations to be alternates for CONA.

The middle school conference focuses on the General Assembly and International Criminal Court in a modified format that allows middle school students to sample these two separate committees. Through experiential learning, the students acquired new skills in diplomacy, public speaking, critical thinking, and problem solving.

At the conclusion of the middle school conference, Y students took home seven of the ten awards that were given out.

From the Envoy A Committee:
Julienne Chaquor (Satz) won the Outstanding 1st Year Delegate award and Thomas Welch (Thorne) won the Premier Diplomat Award.

From the Envoy C Committee:

Kaitlyn O’Boyle (Thompson) was recognized with the Outstanding 1st Year Delegate Award and Caitlin Garrett (Bayshore) was honored with the Premier Diplomat Award.

From the Envoy D Committee:

Rita Vought (Satz) won the Premier Diplomat Award.

Individual Awards went to:

Matthew DePinho (Satz) and Kane D’Mello (Satz) won the Outstanding Country Award for their representation of Estonia, and Nick Skamarak and Rita Vought won the Premier Country Award for the representation of the nation of Laos.

The YMCA Model UN Conference differs from other Model UN programs in that it is focused on fostering character development in young people. Part of that mission is accomplished by giving high school students the authority to run the conference themselves as the officers of their committees to achieve the goal of developing future global leaders.

For more information on Model UN, click here.

The Community YMCA
The Y is a leading nonprofit charity that strengthens communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Community YMCA serves more than 20,000 residents in greater Monmouth County through programs such as: preschool, before and after school care, health and wellness, leadership, arts enrichment, personal and family counseling and summer day camp. With a mission to serve all, more than $650,000  in reduced and free membership fees and programs is provided by the YCares financial assistance program to individuals and families in need. For more information, visit TheCommunityYMCA.org.

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