Talk about having the world at your feet. The Brighton Bengals’ Model United Nations Team, long-ranked as one of the best in the country, took first place as a distinguished delegation in Research and Preparation at the 2019 National High School Model United Nations conference in New York City.

Brighton High was the only Utah school to compete in the mock proceedings of the United Nations (UN). Student delegates were assigned a country to represent in one of the UN’s numerous committees with pre-set topics to debate. They researched the background of their country, their country's position on the topics at hand, and prepared notes on possible solutions to the problems faced. Students then convened in the General Assembly to debate with the other UN member states, represented by 3,500 students from 30 countries. BHSModelUN

Much like the real UN, the goal is to identify creative solutions to vexing foreign relations problems. In doing so the students flex their academic skills, and practice patience and persistence. They learn to speak well, but also to listen.

As former United-Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon once explained to conference participants, the experience trains students to be open-minded and flexible. “To analyze all the positions, even those you oppose. To propose constructive solutions that will benefit all parties. Developing these diplomatic skills will help you as you prepare for leadership in the future. Such skills have never been more important.”

Next up for the Bengals: The Model UN Team will be competing at the state conference on April 16 where the team has a good chance of earning another first-place trophy, says their advisor Jim Hodges.


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The famed Battle of the Ax, one of Utah’s longest-standing high school sports rivalries, is celebrating its 50th anniversary to coincide with the 50th year of Brighton High.

It was the 1969 opening of Brighton, in fact, that led to the creation of the Bengals’ annual wrestling competition against Hillcrest High. Brighton was built to accommodate growth in the southeastern portion of Salt Lake County, and stood to inherit some of Hillcrest's students. Bengal wrestling coach Don Neff and Hillcrest coach Tex Casto came up with the traveling trophy as a way to build school pride while preserving a united spirit of community through sportsmanship.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at Brighton. It will be the last time that the competition will be held at the current Brighton campus—or the current Hillcrest campus, for that matter—because both schools are being completely rebuilt. Coaches Casto and Neff are expected to be honored at the event alongside former student wrestlers.

"In 50 years, a lot has changed. Computers fit in a pocket and phones no longer need a cord. Entertainment is on demand, and cars drive themselves," notes this Deseret News story about the competition's golden jubilee. "The one thing that has not changed is how two communities feel about a rivalry started 50 years ago by a couple of guys hoping to promote the sport of wrestling."

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Denmark isn’t a socialist utopia where everything is free, as Bernie Sanders is wont to describe it. Nor is it an example of the pitfalls of socialism as portrayed in a recent White House report that compared Denmark’s standard of living to that of Venezuela.

In fact, the Nordic country isn’t socialist at all, Denmark’s Ambassador to the United States Lars Gert Lose explained to a group of Brighton High students on Friday. “We are a social-democratic country.”

It’s a nuance that may be tough to describe on a bumper sticker, or in 140 characters or less, but it wasn’t lost on the Model UN and Advanced Placement students who gathered in Brighton’s auditorium to hear Lose speak. The Ambassador’s appearance was arranged by social studies teacher Jim Hodges through Brigham Young University’s Kennedy Center.  The Kennedy Center sponsors several ambassadorial visits each year, and arranges to have the dignitaries meet with as many student groups as possible. danishsmall

At Brighton, Lose spoke of life as a diplomat and of Denmark’s long and valued ties to the United States. The two countries may not agree on everything, he said, but “there’s much more that binds us together than separates us.”

Denmark’s diplomatic relationship with America dates back to 1801 due, in part, to historically large Danish migration to this country. Economically, the two countries are important to one another. “The U.S. is the third largest market for Danish companies, bigger than France or the UK,” Lose said. And the two regions share common foreign security philosophies with their investments in military defense.

Culturally and politically the two countries may sometimes seem worlds apart, but the distinctions aren’t as black-and-white as is commonly thought. Among the surprising facts that Lose shared:

  • Denmark has a democratic political system and free and open-market economy, but also could be described as a welfare state due to its government-funded health care, higher education, and robust social supports.
  • The country is part of the European Union but has its own currency
  • The vast majority of Danes are affiliated with trade unions because the government doesn’t regulate employment standards, such as setting a minimum wage. Liberal employment regulations also make it easier to hire and fire workers who can always fall back on the country’s safety net, creating more job mobility. But unemployment is low, and currently at about 3.6 percent, and productivity high. 
  • Lose described his homeland as a “very pragmatic and compromising country” with nine political parties in Parliament that have had to learn to work together in order to get work done.
Of course, the Danes devote nearly half their wages to income tax. Social supports “come at a price,” Lose said, “but it’s true that we have a great quality of life.”

Denmark’s foreign policy priorities include the fight against terror and climate change. The country began innovating in the area of renewable energy in the 1970s in response to an oil crisis. Renewable energy sources now meet half of the country’s energy needs, Lose said.

The country also would like to see free-trade alliances and agreements preserved. There’s nothing wrong with Trump Administration’s America-first stance, Lose said. “We have a Denmark-first policy as well.” Lose also agreed that the World Trade Organization has allowed China to compete unfairly.

But Lose questioned the logic of “blowing up” fair-trade rules and structures in an effort to improve them. “That won’t play well in the long-term. Look at Utah. I think 25 percent of all jobs here are dependent on global trade,” he said. “The point is how you pursue America’s interests. Playing a zero-sum game and having to win every single time, makes it difficult to find compromise.”

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Swashbuckling pirates, a jukebox legend, childhood classic, spookily familiar family, and timeless civil rights story: Canyons District’s fall musical lineup has something to please theater goers of all ages and interests. 

Tickets can be purchased at each school’s box office. Here is a list of show dates and times (including matinee performances):

The job market faced by today’s high school graduates looks nothing like the market of five years ago, and with the pace of change in technology, there’s no telling what tomorrow will bring.

Auto makers are already testing automated driving systems that will reduce the need to hire truck drivers, and computer algorithms are being developed that could one day replace insurance underwriters, financial analysts and even radiologists.

What does career-readiness look like for students coming of age in such a rapidly-changing world? What kinds of skills and knowledge should they be acquiring, and how?  

If you asked Jamie Hyneman, co-host of the popular TV show, MythBusters, he’d say that while accessing the right training and schooling is important, the secret to securing a fulfilling career comes down to having the right attitude. “It comes down to resilience, hard work, and self-discovery. Growing up, I discovered if you’re methodical and work hard, you can do anything,” he told high school-age attendees of the 2018 Pathways to Professions Expo, a showcase of Career and Technical Education courses available at Utah’s public schools. His appearance, a question-and-answer session narrated by Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, was sponsored by Salt Lake Community College.hynemansmall

Before he was a TV show host and special effects expert, Hyneman was a man of many trades. In his younger years, he worked as a mountain guide, cook, building inspector, and builder in addition to laboring on farms and in libraries. At first blush, his resume might appear haphazard, or the record of someone who is perpetually distracted.

But Hyneman said he approached each of these occupations like an insatiably curious “forensic scientist” bent on soaking up all the knowledge he needed to master the job. “I didn’t start with exceptional skills. I’d follow-up, and follow through. I’d get my foot in the door, pay my dues and become an asset to the company,” he said.

His advice to students: Find things that interest you, and experiment with them—preferably not with explosives until you’re ready—be methodical, and don’t be afraid of failure. “Just be methodical and work hard and it’s amazing what you can do,” he said.

This strategy certainly comes in handy when it comes to orchestrating special effects, busting myths and inventing, which is what Hyneman is doing now for the U.S. military and venture capitalist entrepreneurs. MythBusters was an enjoyable and lucrative side gig that has given him the freedom to choose how to spend his time, he says. “My life now is about going into my shop, locking the door, cranking the music and coming out with something that nobody ever dreamed of.”

Asked by a student attendee when he realized what he finally wanted to do in life, Hyneman said, “I don’t think I’m there yet.”

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