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Local Montessori students to caucus at the United Nations

Heading to New York are (bottom row, from left) Reed Easterling and Allison Overkamp with (back row, from left) Kateri Gutting, Christina Carroll and Aunye K’nuckles.

Heading to New York are (bottom row, from left) Reed Easterling and Allison Overkamp with (back row, from left) Kateri Gutting, Christina Carroll and Aunye K’nuckles.

Students at Campbell Montessori School in St. Charles will take learning to an international level next month.

Four sixth-grade students – Reed Easterling, Kateri Gutting, Allison Overkamp and Aunye K’nuckles – will travel across the country with their teacher Christina Carroll to participate in the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) program in late March.

“What’s neat about this conference is that it’s not a debate format,” said Carroll, who has taught at the school for seven years. “The students will have to collaborate and caucus with other children around the world.”

MMUN students formulate, present, debate and revise positions on current issues that are affecting people around the world. By assuming the perspectives of citizens of their selected countries, MMUN students not only develop an understanding of the needs and rights of others, but also learn to respect the cultures, political views and belief systems of others.

Representing the country of Uganda, the Campbell Montessori students will travel to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where they will give speeches and caucus with other children from around the U.S., and hopefully meet with the Ugandan ambassador.

“This is a lifetime experience to work with students around the world,” Easterling said.

In preparation for the spring trip, students have spent months learning about the history of the country, its political positions and power players, its geography and economics, to name a few. Carroll said each student was assigned a research topic and required to write a two-page paper as well as to present a speech at the program.

K’nuckles, who has been researching child labor in Uganda, said much of her research made her sad.

“Children work a full day and then make low or no wages,” K’nuckles said. “Some children have to go to war because there are more children than adults.”

When she grows up, K’nuckles said she wants to visit the countries that need help.

“I want to help people in other countries have a happy and better place to live,” she said.

Overkamp said she is excited to be learning in a new environment.

“I grew up on a farm, so going to a big city and learning about a lot of places will be fun,”  Overkamp said.

Gutting said she is looking forward to meeting children from other countries and hearing them speak English as their second language.

“I wanted them to meet other Montessori students from around the world,” Carroll said. “I also wanted them to get exposure, to be compassionate and to work together with lots of different folks.”

The trip was open to all of the school’s sixth-grade students.

A huge part of the planning process has been fundraising to meet the group’s $8,000 goal. Carroll said students have been responsible for fundraising from start to finish, organizing a Santa’s workshop in December and selling truffles in February. A Murder Mystery Theatre is planned for 7 p.m. on March 6 at the school, 3880 Shady Springs Lane in St. Charles. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased by calling 477-8200.

Students still need about $1,300 to cover the hotel expenses for the trip.

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