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Model U.N. team raising funds for trip
Tearing apart and analyzing presidential candidate debates is something most people associate with CNN news anchors or political science majors at four-year universities.

It's an entirely different experience when watching a group of seventh grade students discuss the strategy of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and his Republican opponent, George Bush, in 1988.

None of these students was even born when the two debated for the nation's top office.

But that didn't stop the seventh grade Model United Nations class at Needwood Middle School from pointing out how one misrepresented the other's opinion and appealed to viewers' emotions.

Model U.N. is a student-led diplomat program where students participate in debates, representing nations from around the world.

Teacher Jan Cutforth is confident her students will take home first place in a debate contest in the Big Apple. They just have to get there first.

The school's Model U.N. team is trying to send a contingent to New York City for the only international competition held in the United States, but it will not be inexpensive.

That's why the group has been busy raising money.

"We're about two-thirds of the way there. We've still got about $10,800 to go," Cutforth said.

The entire team won't be attending - only 28 of the 70 total will be able to go.

"We have to look at who really wants it, who's willing to put in the time and hard work, and who really has the talent," Cutforth said of the process to pick the final delegates.

Students have been doing a lot of fundraising, including catering a band concert at their school, hosting pancake breakfasts at Applebee's, selling ice cream and hosting spaghetti dinners. Still running is a Millhouse reusable discount card the students have handed out for 10 percent off, which goes directly to fund the trip to New York.

Cutforth says businesses and residents have been very helpful, and she's looking forward to the students hosting another fundraiser at Pizza Inn on Community Road March 10.

But fundraising isn't all they need to do to prepare for New York.

"They've been writing position papers, writing country papers, practicing debates and beyond," Cutforth said. "We've already set up a meeting with the ambassador to Lebanon in New York (for when we make the trip) and are working on meeting with the ambassador to Angola to help them prepare even more."

The Needwood Model U.N. team made first place at the most recent competition held at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro and also took home not just first place at College of Coastal Georgia's competition, but also four of the five outstanding category awards.

Cutforth is sure her students can bring home that same trophy from New York, but they'll need all the financial help they can to make sure all the students can make it.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.



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