Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Upcoming Contra Costa County High School Model UN Announces Record Participation

Contra Costa County Model United Nations Gavel Winners from 2010

An impressive increase in student participants planning to take part in the 21st annual conference of the Contra Costa County High School Model United Nations, is announced by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).  The Model UN, to be held on November 4-5, has a current count of 315 registered students – a jump of 38% over last year.

During these times of slashing school budgets and the continued downsizing of educational opportunities for our students, this increase of student participation is certainly remarkable.  Despite such obstacles, the students, as well as their parents and schools, find ways to take part in such important academic opportunities.

Model UN, is one of five academic events produced by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).  “This is a wonderful opportunity for these students to utilize what they have learned in their classrooms, Model UN school clubs, and on their own, as they participate in a professionally organized event,” reports CCCOE Chief Communications Officer Peggy Marshburn.  “Our Model UN program continues to grow in participating schools and students.  We often hear from the schools how our academic events [such as Model UN] are a tremendous hands-on learning option to offer their students, plus the experience makes a great addition to the students’ college applications.”  

The CCCOE’s other upcoming academic events include Academic Decathlon, Mock Trial, and National History Day, which are also looking at an increase in participating schools and students, evident by many early registrants.   In addition, the CCCOE’S second-year Mock Trial Invitational, to be held in early December, has already reached maximum capacity.

Model United Nations is a simulation of the UN General Assembly and other multilateral bodies. In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member states to debate current issues on the organization's agenda.  While playing their roles as ambassadors, student delegates make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN conference rules of procedure – all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.

Before playing out their ambassadorial roles in a Model UN simulation, students research the issue that their committee will address.  Model UN participants learn how the international community acts on its concerns about topics including peace and security, human rights, the environment, food and hunger, economic development and globalization.  Model UN delegates also look closely at the needs, goals and foreign policies of the countries they will represent at the event.  The insights they gain from their exploration of history, geography, culture, economics and science contribute to the authenticity of the simulation when the role playing gets under way. The delegates' in-depth knowledge of their countries guarantees a lively and memorable experience.

This year marks the 67th Anniversary of the United Nations founding in San Francisco.  To give students (delegates) a flavor of the UN’s real-world accomplishments, former United Nations Development Programme Senior Officer Herb Behrstock will be serving as the keynote speaker at the Opening Plenary ceremony.  Behrstock is the current president of the UN Association, East Bay Chapter. 

Participating in this year’s Contra Costa County Model UN are students from: Acalanes High (Lafayette), Antioch High, Athenian High (Danville), Campolindo High (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), Deer Valley High (Antioch), De La Salle High (Concord), Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Liberty High (Brentwood), Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High (Livermore), Marin Academy (San Rafael), Northgate High (Walnut Creek), and San Ramon Valley High (Danville). 

For additional information about CCCOE’s Model UN and other academic events, please contact Peggy Marshburn at (925) 942-3420, visit their website. 

10th Annual Contra Costa Shelter-in-Place Drill takes place on November 2

School children across Contra Costa County will participate in the 10th Annual Countywide Shelter in Place Drill to practice safety procedures in the chance of a nearby hazardous-material release.  Directed by the Contra Costa County Community Awareness Emergency Response Group (CAER), this year’s Shelter-in-Place Drill will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 2, and all public and private schools, and childcare centers throughout Contra Costa County are encouraged to participate.  Last year, approximately 200 sites participated in the drill.  (Schools are more than welcome to choose another date to participate with this drill.)

CAER Executive Director Tony Semenza says, “Contra Costa CAER is encouraged each year with increased number of participating Shelter-in-Place schools.  CAER works with, and will continue to work with, all the schools in our county to be sure that they know how and when to shelter in place.  Teachers and students should all know shelter-in-place procedures, just as they are trained about what to do in case of a fire or earthquake.  I encourage everyone to join us in preparing for the worst so that we may do our best during an emergency.”

This annual safety event gives children and their caregivers an important opportunity to practice responding to the Community Warning System (CWS) alerts, which sound a siren when there has been a dangerous chemical release or other disaster that requires a Shelter-in-Place.  These alerts can be sent via sirens, radio, TV, social media postings, and subscribed cell-phone-text messages.

Hazardous-material releases can result from many sources in Contra Costa County, including accidents at chemical treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, facilities that store and/or manufacture hazardous materials and refineries, but also from collisions involving trucks or trains that transport chemicals.  The possibility of accidents and the threat of terrorism make it important for residents, which include the county’s youngest members, to recognize and respond correctly to shelter-in-place alerts.

Shelter in place means to make a shelter out of the place you are in.  It is a way for you to make the building as safe as possible to protect yourself until help arrives or the emergency has passed.  You should not try to shelter in a vehicle unless you have no other choice. Vehicles are not airtight enough to give you adequate protection from chemicals.

CAER is a coalition of local agencies, businesses, industries, community groups, and emergency response organizations.  The non-profit organization works together to improve emergency response planning and inform the public about how to react in the event of a hazardous-materials emergency.
For additional information about this year’s Contra Costa County Shelter-in-Place Drill, contact CAER at 925-313-9296 or visit their website.

Announcing the County Teacher of the Year Deborah Bordeau, Oakley Unified Elementary School District

The COE’s Annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held on September 15, was another huge success!  Concluding an energy-driven and exciting evening at the Concord Hilton, our emcee, Dr. Joseph Ovick, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools, concluded the night-long anticipated naming of our county’s next Teacher of the Year – it was Laurel Elementary’s Deborah Bordeau (right).  Bordeau has been teaching at Laurel Elementary for the past two decades.

After accepting her award, Bordeau told the crowded room: “Exactly one year ago today, I was sitting in a chair receiving my last chemo treatment for breast cancer, and then this year, I’m on stage being honored as Teacher of the Year for the county.  So if anyone tells you not much happens in a year – don’t you believe them!”

Following being named by the Oakley Union Elementary School District as their district Teacher of the Year (TOY), this past March, Bordeau successfully proceeded with the other 17 eligible county candidates through a rigorous county-wide selection process, which included an application screening, classroom evaluation, interview, and speech presentation.  Her fellow finalists were Donna Kenyon, a fifth grade teacher at Baldwin Elementary in Danville, and Sue Noce, a Spanish and reading teacher at Foothill Middle School in Walnut Creek.

More than 400 attendees were on hand for an evening that will certainly not be forgotten.  The audience was made up of the TOYs’ family members and friends, as well as numerous local educators, business partners, and officials.  Kicking off the festivities was “Cool Beans 5,” Heritage High’s Jazz ensemble, directed by former 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year finalist Steve Ernest.  Dr. Ovick introduced the TOY class of 2011-2012 (19 on hand) by sharing to the audience his visits to each of the teachers' classrooms.  This was followed by speeches of the three TOY finalists, their topic: “What I have learned from my students.”  Following the three speeches, Bordeau's announcement was made.

The evening’s festivities were taped by CCTV, is scheduled for the following broadcast date:
* Thursday, October 20, 8:00 p.m.

CCTV is on Comcast channel 27, Astound channel 32, and AT&T U-Verse channel 99.  For additional air dates, check CCTV’s program guide.