Fall 2011 High School Model UN Rankings: Top 1-5

by KFC on December 20, 2011

Huntington Beach has had much to celebrate about this Fall

Which high schools have the best Model UN team in North America? We devised a rankings system that answers this question in order to recognize the top teams on the circuit for their accomplishments.

Please read the methodology article first before jumping into the rankings. We clarify in the article our purpose for doing rankings, our philosophy that drives what we value in the rankings, and our methodology.

With that said, here are the top 1-5 Model UN teams in North America! All of them have won multiple delegation awards this year. Their ability to not only win big but demonstrate consistent high-level performance is what makes the top five stand out from the rest.

Fall 2011 High School Model UN Rankings: North America Top 1-5

1. Huntington Beach High School (California)

Huntington Beach may not have all the head-to-head victories on its resume but it does have something that no other team has: a circuit-high of four large delegation awards already. The team started off winning one of two Best Large Delegations at the neighboring Edison EHSMUN conference (the other went to Mira Costa). It then split its team up in November to capture delegation awards at two back-to-back high-profile conferences. Huntington Beach won Best California Delegation (roughly equivalent to Outstanding Large in our converted points) at UCLA BruinMUN and won Best Large Delegation at William & Mary WMHSMUN (converted to the equivalent of Outstanding Large since the Coon Trophy is the highest award at that conference). Finally, it took on its California rivals again at Regionals RHSMUN and came away with Best Large Delegation. One Huntington Beach delegate remarked after winning at RHSMUN, “this should boost us up the rankings.” Indeed it did, all the way to #1. Huntington Beach will be defending Best Large Delegation awards at Berkeley BMUN, UC San Diego TritonMUN, and Mission Viejo MVHSMUN. The team will have a tough time staying at #1 in our rankings because the team is not traveling to the East Coast this year (where a majority of our highest weighted conferences are), but that’s because the team has even bigger travel plans — they’re going to Europe for the THIMUN-affiliated Haarlem HMUN conference. The team also hosts its Surf City MUN conference in February. Huntington Beach is advised by Shaun Haney and Bill Harmicar.

2. University of Chicago Lab School (Illinois)

Chicago Lab, like many Midwestern schools, has a scheduling disadvantage as there are not many conferences available in the Midwest, but the team has made the most out of its traveling resources to compete at two conferences in different regions of the United States before attending one at home. Chicago Lab started its season by traveling to Georgia Tech GTMUN where it won an Outstanding Delegation award. It then split its team for an away conference and a home conference on back-to-back weekends. The away team won Best Small Delegation at Princeton PMUNC and the home team won Outstanding Large Delegation at the MUNDO-hosted Chicago CIMUN. These three results place it at #2 in our Fall rankings, and it’s impressive given the team’s need to perform at less than full strength while traveling. It will continue an away-and-home schedule that includes Harvard HMUN and Northwestern NUMUN. Chicago Lab is advised by Paul Horton.

3. Port Charlotte High School (Florida)

Port Charlotte High School is the only large team to go undefeated at two major conferences so far this year and they have done so in dominating fashion. It also has a penchant for racking up best large delegation awards that feature a named-trophy. Port Charlotte continued its winning streak at Georgia Tech by winning its 11th consecutive George P. Burdell Cup for Best Delegation and it took home an Outstanding Delegation as well (GTMUN gives awards by country). It then dominated at William & Mary WMHSMUN by winning 11 of 17 gavels to take home the Coon Award for Diplomacy (also equivalent to a Best Large Delegation). Port Charlotte has a solid case to be the top-ranked team at the moment — it owns head-to-head wins over the two teams ranked above it but places at #3 since those two teams have a higher total score by winning more times so far (which is what our rankings measure). Port Charlotte will get to add to their resume when its season continues at Harvard HMUN, George Washington WAMUNC, and Florida Gulf Coast’s SWLFMUN. Port Charlotte is advised by Bob Johnson.

4. The Dalton School (New York)

The Dalton School started off at with a very strong warmup performance at Horace Mann HoMMUNC where it took 8 of 10 Best Delegate awards (novice conferences aren’t counted in our rankings) and then went back to Rutgers RUMUN to defend its Best Large Delegation award. It then competed at Princeton PMUNC where it took home the Outstanding Large Delegation award in a very competitive field. These pair of delegation awards enables the team to place in the top five. Dalton may not have beaten one team, Horace Mann, but it has beaten many more teams in the Northeast than their rival has at to this point in the season. Dalton will get to strengthen its profile with two very competitive conferences — it’ll travel south to Georgetown NAIMUN before flying across the country to Berkeley BMUN.

5. Mira Costa High School (California)

Mira Costa is off to another strong start as it has won a large delegation award every month this Fall. Mira Costa was one of two teams to win a Best Large Delegation award at Edison EHSMUN (the other went to Huntington Beach). Mira Costa, which rotates its travel conferences every year, had McGill SSUNS in Canada on the schedule this year and brought back a Best Large Delegation award from that conference. The team then went to Regionals RHSMUN and came home with an Outstanding Large Delegation award. This consistency puts it in the top five and will serve it well as it heads to Georgetown NAIMUN, Berkeley BMUN, UC San Diego TritonMUN, and Huntington Beach’s Surf City MUN next semester. Mira Costa also hosted its novice conference, LAIMUN, and attends several others: Santa Margarita SOCOMUN, Cerritos CHSMUN, and Huntington Beach novice. Mira Costa is advised by Bob Timberlake and Wayne Knutson.


Check out the top 6-10, 11-15, and 16-25!


Congrats to all the teams! Keep in mind that this ranking is intended to measure competitive success during this Fall only. Many teams have not had the chance to participate at multiple conferences, at a large conference, or even at a single conference yet and there are many conferences to come. Good luck with your preparations and enjoy winter break!

  • Regina Blaire

    Congratulations to everyone who made it to the top five! Being ranked in BD’s Top 25 alone is an honor, and I believe it’s especially exciting to be so highly ranked.

    While I understand how the methodology and ranking process works, I was wondering, IS there a way to factor in head-to-head match-ups, perhaps in a revised methodology? For example, as you mentioned in the article, Port Charlotte won higher recognition at GTMUN that did Chicago Lab and at William and Mary than did Huntington Beach. While I’ve had experience with all three teams and found each to be exceptionally adept at MUN, it seems strange that two teams that Port Charlotte has beaten would rank higher than them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

      Hi Regina,

      We understand head-to-head matchups make a lot of sense in terms of narratives, but from our experience using it in our first set of college rankings (and from drawing analogies in sports), we realized there are a lot of flaws in the logic:

      1. Teams win and “lose” all the time. It’s easy in the beginning of the season to say Team A is better than Team B based on one conference, but what happens when Team B beats Team A at another conference? It may be fair to say Team A beat Team B at one conference, so we’re better than them. But what if Team B beat many more teams around the country in similarly competitive conferences since that loss? Wouldn’t Team B have more of the national recognition? Again, I think the overall season is a better indicator of how good a team is instead of its one win or loss at a certain conference.

      2. Just because Team A beat Team B, and Team B beat Team C, doesn’t necessarily mean Team A can beat Team C. That’s because each team isn’t necessarily fielding the same delegates every time. Teams are not always sending their full-strength team, particularly when they are traveling to a really competitive conference that’s far away or if they’re sending underclassmen to an easier conference.

      Fundamentally, we’re rewarding teams for sending more of their students to more conferences (and winning at them). And that’s how we measure success. We want Model UN to grow. We’re not measuring by which team has the most elite seniors; that’s great (and will be reflected by wins at the most competitive conferences) but it doesn’t really grow Model UN.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1257680267 Amanda Piazza

    Are the Spring conferences going to be categorized the same as last year? Or will some conferences move up/down in the rankings due to who is attending which conference?

    Thank you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

      Yes, all conferences will get reweighed every year based on the criteria mentioned in the methodology. This includes which schools will be attending that conference.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1257680267 Amanda Piazza

        Okay thank you for responding so promptly! I’m further wondering if you will ever be sharing the algorithm for high school weighting so we can see just how you came up with this list.

        Also, a sincere thank you to the Best Delegate team for acknowledging each team’s successes and hard work!

  • http://twitter.com/MUNproblemz MUNproblemz

    omg so many munproblemz with this

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

    In case you have concerns and haven’t read it yet, there’s good feedback and discussion on the issues regarding the methodology in the Top 6-10 article: http://bestdelegate.com/fall-2011-high-school-model-un-rankings-top-6-10/

  • Anonymous

    Why are high school conferences such as EHSMUN and MVHSMUN factored into rankings? These conferences are not accessible to the country at large and therefore give californian schools wha

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

      Good question, Joey. And it raises an issue that I hope we can all take away from these rankings.

      First, no conference is inherently more or less accessible. It costs money (a roundtrip cross-country flight) to fly to PMUNC from California, just like it costs money to fly to EHSMUN from the East Coast. They are the same. PMUNC just has more national recognition because it’s bigger and hosted by a university and not because it’s more geographically accessible to the rest of the country. PMUNC is, by the way, not national. It’s almost all NY, NJ, and PA schools with only a handful from out-of-state. It’s pretty local (or regional) in my opinion, just like how a California conference occasionally gets a school from AZ, WA, or HI.

      Second, a conference is a conference. We can’t discredit a team from sending students to a Model UN conference just because it’s local. If a teacher wants as many students as possible to experience Model UN, then a local conference is perfect. It’s much more cost effective and students still get the same Model UN experience and teachers (or head delegates) should be applauded for giving more students the chance to participate in Model UN rather than limiting it to a small travel team. And if they win (against tough competition in the case of EHSMUN and MVHSMUN), then they should be rewarded.

      Third, for rankings purposes, California schools have an advantage earlier in the season because there are many conferences available in the Fall. But in the Spring, there are many more conferences available in other regions and especially so on the East Coast. These East Coast conferences are among the largest and most competitive on the circuit (highest weighted) and East Coast teams will get to “level the playing field” through them, especially since we instituted a cap of four conference scores in this year’s methodology.

      But most important is: what are you going to do about the California advantage?

      I hope these rankings shed light to schools in other regions on what’s going on in Southern California. There is only one MUN conference hosted by a university in the Fall: UCLA BruinMUN. But teams in Southern California want more Model UN experiences without having to spend so much on travel. So they’ve created their own local circuit to give themselves more opportunities without having to fly. In Southern California, the Fall schedule was: SOCOMUN, CHSMUN, EHSMUN, THSMUN, LAIMUN, and CVHSMUN. EHSMUN is 600 delegates and THSMUN is over 1,000. SOCOMUN is a novice conference with over 1,000 and LAIMUN is a novice conference with 850.

      That’s what we want to see and this is the exact type of action we’re trying to drive with the rankings. We want teams to expand their local circuits by creating their own conferences. There are so many benefits to this: you get to manage a conference (your own small business), you get to experience what it’s like to chair, and you get to fundraise. And on the attendee side, you get newer schools who feel more welcome to participate in a less competitive setting, you get an opportunity to train your freshmen w/o having to spend a lot of travel money, and you get to know your local circuit and community a lot better.

      • Anonymous

        If you are trying to use these rankings to achieve a goal, doesn’t that make it less meritocratic? Like if you are valuing certain conferences more simply because they could have a better effect on the MUN community if they expand, won’t that give an inaccurate representation of the “True” standings and skill levels of teams? Also, it seems wrong to discount head to head results. While team A could win at a dozen small conferences, if it can’t beat team B (say horace mann), then how could team A possibly be better (or ranked higher) than team B? It seems that more than anything else, this rating system values the quantity of conferences attended rather than the actual competitiveness and size of the conference.
        Regardless, I commend you for taking the immense amount of time necessary to compile and analyze this vast amount of data.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

          Hi Joey,

          Our point is that we can learn something from the rankings besides which schools are the “best.” We learn what makes factors — both internal and external — that makes them good. The numbers got crunched first. Then I look at the results and try to learn why each school placed where it did and hopefully convey these insights to the rest of the community.

          Conferences are not valued by their effect on how they impact the Model UN community. That’s not mentioned in the methodology. Conferences are still weighed by competitiveness according to the criteria mentioned in the methodology. The value that a conference brings to the local community is just a by-product of its existence.

          The results only seem to favor quantity in the Fall because all the conferences are around the same size and roughly the same level of competitiveness. Winning at one additional conference makes a big difference in the Fall. Once you get to NAIMUN, HMUN, etc. which have significantly higher weightings, there will be a bigger skew toward competitiveness. Winning at two conferences won’t necessarily outweigh winning at one HMUN or NAIMUN.

          Unfortunately, there is no single championship conference in high school MUN where every team attends, and every team attends a different number of conferences. We think using the sum of weighted scores is the best way to represent a team’s entire body of work than it’s one head-to-head.

          Using your example, what if Team A won at a bunch of conferences but lost to Team B at one of them (let’s say, Harvard HMUN). What if that was the only conference Team B went to? Does that make Team B the national champion and better than all the other teams that Team A beat at the other conferences? Not necessarily. I understand the logic that Team B beat Team A but I still think one head-to-head matchup is still too narrow of a lens to look through if we’re talking about national rankings with many other teams involved. Put in another way, if head-to-head matchups are so important, then a team’s worth is essentially very dependent on whether or not the teams they beat won or lost in other conferences and it’s totally outside the team’s control.

          • Anonymous

            I 100% agree that one head-to-head matchup should not be how teams should be compared. However, if a consistent trend emerges of one team beating another at two or three legitimate conferences, then I think it is reasonable to draw some conclusions. For example, if Team A beat Team B at three conferences hosted by colleges, but could not attend a NAIMUN/ NHSMUN/ HMUN/ ILMUNC etc. because of costs, scheduling issues, or backlash from its administration, I still think a case can be made for that school being better than Team B, even if Team B won a delegation award at a larger conference. Not that head-to-head matchups should be a determining factor, but at some point head-to-head matchups ought to be considered in my view because in the long-run (over multiple conferences) they can shed light on the overall strength of a club (in a way that a school winning Best Small at a huge national conference may not).

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

            Ok I see your point here. I think it makes sense for most of the rankings. The one where it may not make sense is at the highest level. If Team A in your example beat Team B at several conferences but then Team B was able to attend a NAIMUN, NHSMUN, HMUN, etc. and win, does it still make sense for Team A to be ranked higher (or be called the national #1)?

            One example is right in front of us. Huntington Beach beat Mira Costa or tied them at every conference it has attended this Fall and will see them again twice. Assuming Huntington Beach wins or ties at both Berkeley and UCSD, but Mira Costa wins at NAIMUN, would that still make Huntington Beach rank higher and thus be the #1? In head-to-head matchup logic, it would. But I’m sure many of the other teams at NAIMUN would disagree; they’d argue that they lost at NAIMUN but still had a better overall record. It comes back down to weighting of the conferences.

            I think my takeaway here is to work with Ryan to see if/how head-to-head matchups work in a formula and see if it would help identify trends.

  • Anonymous

    While I commend you on your efforts to rank teams across the world, I would like to kindly disagree with the top 5. It seems even in your descriptions that your rankings are not correct. I understand you guys have created a methodology, but it MUST be flawed if these are the results.

    Port Charlotte High school has gone to 2 of the most competitive conferences in the NATION, and not just regional. At WMHSMUN they won 11 GAVELS, and won the most prestigious award at the conference. They DOMINATED Huntington Beach, League of Creative Minds, T. Jefferson, and a plethora of other top schools. All the schools mentioned are ranked according to this, including the “number one” school. At GTMUN they beat Gulf Coast AND Chicago Lab, the number 10 and two teams. How is Port Charlotte not the BEST team in the nation if they consistently beat top teams, including teams who ranked above them?

    Like mentioned before, Huntington Beach has LOST at a conference to the number 3 team, Port Charlotte, and had less awards than Gulf Coast at BruinMUN. HOW ARE THEY NUMBER ONE?!?!?! It is obvious they NEED to be ranked five or six.

    Not to sound redundant, but Port Charlotte BEAT CHICAGO LAB. Chicago Lab lost to two Port Charlotte delegations, isn’t it completely obvious they shouldn’t be ABOVE Port Charlotte?

    NCAA basketball has NO relevance to MUN because in basketball, everyone plays the same amount of games. Even if you were to compare, NO undefeated team is behind teams they have beaten in rankings. Chicago and Huntington shouldn’t be rewarded for winning at much smaller conferences. There are a TON of conferences that are weaker that Dalton could win at.

    As much as I dislike Port Charlotte and envy their success, they are THE BEST TEAM in the NATION. How did you NOT see this? they went to the most competitive conferences and DOMINATED the competition.

    • Anonymous

      Woah MunyFunyBuny… it seems that in the 6-10 posts you were all fine and dandy with what happened. I guess now I really understand the difference between a school that gets it… and one that doesnt….

      • Anonymous

        I think there is something flawed in saying a whole school “gets it”. Although delegates at the same school have been trained basically the same way, that does not mean that you can bloc a school’s delegates together. For example, Dalton delegates are often thought of as very competitive, but I have been on committee with really easy going Dalton kids and really competitive Dalton delegates. In the same way, I’m sure that MunyFunyBuny doesn’t reflect his/her whole school’s view on these rankings.

      • Anonymous

        I understand the hypocrisy in my post, it just infuriates me to see this. My school got hosed early on in the rankings, and I wasn’t upset. Seeing the way the top 5 was laid out REALLY bugged me though.

    • Regina Blaire

      “Did you guys not read the methodology? I mean it’s pretty clear on how they are going to rank teams, and they did a great job doing this too. These are ONLY fall rankings, not the final rankings. Isn’t that what matters the most?”

      “I commend KFC and the rest of BD for their efforts and consistency in ranking teams according to the methodology they developed. I would suggest that schools who consistently rank work not to be number one, but to be the best THEY can be. Remember everyone, Model United Nations is a program to improve speaking skills and interactions and knowledge of students in both high school and college. So if you guys could please stop complaining because your school isn’t ranked number one that would be nice. ”

      MunyFunyBuny, are these not direct quotes of yours from the 6-10 ranking? http://bestdelegate.com/fall-2011-high-school-model-un-rankings-top-6-10/

      • Anonymous

        No? someone must of hacked me

  • Anonymous

    I think everyone really needs to calm down…every school in the top 25 rankings definitely deserves to be there. My school’s program didn’t even make the ranking but I still congratulate Huntington Beach High School for their success. During RHSMUN, the delegates from Huntington were much more diplomatic and well researched than many other schools. Other schools may be very bitter but I don’t believe that the this ranking is too flawed. Celebrate the current rankings but understand that this isn’t the end-all score.

  • Anonymous

    These rankings just do not seem very fair to me. Huntington beach is ranked first because they have “a circuit-high of four large delegation awards already.”

    Now I understand in the “philosophy” you state schools who win “across many conferences” are the ones who deserve top rankings. But maybe for the end of the year rankings, you should take into account that not all schools can afford to go to a conference every month.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

      We instituted a scoring cap of only 4 conferences in the methodology. For a school that attends more than 4 conferences, we’ll just use their 4 highest scores.

  • lol kat

    lol, mun is totaly subjective and I laugh at all these people bickering about it. Play some sport ya n00bZ.

  • Anonymous

    Glad to be in the mix, we know these schools well. As stated before competition in the proper context is great for what we try to do……. learn about the world through realistic simulation. Some day when confences are transparent with how they decide delegate awards and delegation awards then the subjective aspects will be more contained. All schools deserve the best conference experience possible from start to finish. All of the 25 “top” schools may hopefully be able to post rankings on conferences. Schools could then have the ability to better decide when and where to invest their time, money and sweat equity. On another note when East coast comes West as much as West coast schools go East THEN it will be more of an opportunity to be seen as a national champion. Congrats to ALL especially HB and Port Charlotte who we are lucky enough to know well. Extra thanks to Kevin & Ryan for all the work they do here. We look forward to seeing veryone at NAIMUN.

Previous post:

Next post: