CHAMPLAIN — While many high-school students were worrying about passing chemistry or geometry, Ian Pummell was losing sleep over something else — the hacking of Nicaragua's government websites.
The Beekmantown High School sophomore spent hours researching the topic in preparation for representing Nicaragua at the 35th-annual North Country Model United Nations Conference at Northeastern Clinton Central School.
Participating in the recent event were nearly 500 high-school students from 13 area schools in New York and Vermont. Home-schooled teens also took part in the three-day conference.
The youths split into committees of delegates representing a total of about 125 countries. And they met to discuss some of the world's most pressing issues from the points of view of their assigned nations.
"They have these issues, and (in) each of these committees, they're trying to solve these issues through debate and (they're) trying to create a resolution," said Katherine Dermody, North Country Model United Nations adviser.
This year's gathering included such topics as the international debt crisis, cyber crimes, democracy in the Middle East and child trafficking.
Students also participated in mock legal proceedings, in which the International Court of Justice tried Pakistan for harboring Osama Bin Laden.
"That's why the North Country Model U.N. has been here for 35 years, because there are always world events going on," Dermody said. "There are always issues that need to be resolved."
At the sessions, delegates held up placards bearing the name of their countries in hopes that a moderator would grant them permission to speak. Once a delegate was given the floor, he or she had a brief opportunity to articulate the thoughts and concerns of his or her nation before another delegate was allowed to weigh in on the discussion.
While the students awaited their turns to contribute to the debate, they pored over pages of research, whispered ideas to co-delegates and scribbled notes to be shared with delegates of other countries.