An international incident at Winthrop

Sebastian Haake from South Pointe High School represents Algeria during a model U.N. session at Winthrop University on Friday.
Sebastian Haake from South Pointe High School represents Algeria during a model U.N. session at Winthrop University on Friday.

They had the business suits, the flags from around the world, the plaques with their countries' names on them. The roughly 400 high school students who attended the Model United Nations conference at Winthrop University this week came for the real deal.

Students used words such as "resolution" and "delegate," not your typical high school slang.

They got up in front of their peers and talked about things such as national security, literacy rates and the best interests of their countries.

"We want to create an atmosphere that is as close as possible to an actual United Nations conference," said Alena James, a Winthrop student who served as secretary general. "Our purpose for this is to expose high school students to the kind of issues that current ambassadors experience."

And so they did.

Students from each school were assigned a country. They attended committee meetings and proposed resolutions that would benefit their countries. They argued for their resolutions, trying to convince others to support them.

Sally Horne, president of the Rock Hill High Model United Nations club, tried to pass a resolution identifying a terrorist group in her country, Turkey.

Nobody had signed on as of Thursday afternoon, but Horne had stood up in front of the group and spoken on behalf of Turkey a handful of times.

"I like the fact that we get to voice our opinion on international affairs, especially since in high school, you don't get to voice your opinion that much," she said. "It's kind of an open floor."

Others who were attending the conference for the first time were more timid about speaking.

"I think it's interesting listening to everybody else debate," said Kayla Carrouth, a sophomore from Indian Land High School, which represented Lebanon. "I'm just kind of sitting back and watching."

The annual conference brought together students from the Carolinas and Alabama. It was run by political science students at Winthrop. College students had a chance to debate on Wednesday. They also served as advisers for the high school teams.

Award winners

• Northwestern High School, which represented the United Kingdom, won the Secretariat Award for contributing the most to the success of the conference.

• Fort Mill High School, which represented the United States, won the Geoffrey Bruce Award for the delegation acting most in character of its country.

• Veronica Martinez of Fort Mill High School was recognized for being a top performer on the legal committee.

• Sally Horne of Rock Hill High, Daniel Koverman of Fort Mill High and Ross Baker of Northwestern High were recognized as top performers on the political and security committee.

• Sudeep Das of Northwestern High and Kristin Archie of Fort Mill High were recognized as standouts on the social and humanitarian committee.

• Jeff Bowers of Rock Hill High was recognized for his work in the General Assembly.

• Benjamin Simpson of Northwestern High was recognized for his work on the African Union Committee.