UN Secretary general visits with Chicago students

February 8, 2008 4:06:26 PM PST
There are some who believe global warming is one of the most important issues of our time. Students at Walter Payton Prep in Chicago learned about it Friday with a special visit from the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.The secretary-general's visit to Walter Payton College Prep was delayed by a false fire alarm.

"I was considering seriously deploying firefighting force here," he joked.

Payton Principal Ellen Estrada welcomed the secretary general along with Ambassador William Luers, and she made an unusual introduction.

To mark the visit of the UN secretary-general and celebrate global citizenship, students from 20 Chicago classrooms participating in the Global Classroom program simulated a United Nations debate on climate change. Elizabeth Sabol-Jones moderated the debate.

"I am so happy I was able to participate, especially as secretary general. It was just awesome because I would like to do this when I am older," said Payton student Elizabeth Sabol-Jones, who moderated the debate.

Walter Payton student Logan Cotton impressed the audience as the United States delegate.

"These wars that people fight in over politics, money and land?if there is something to fight over, it has to be the most important issue. When it comes down to it, we need the world to come together," Cotton said.

" I'm extremely proud and humbled at the same time because it's the talent of our amazing students who were here today. And, [it was] their commitment and passion to learn about the world and to really become leaders.," said Principal Estrada.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised the students and recognized Chicago as a leader when it comes to being environmentally friendly.

" I am very grateful to meet all these youth leaders Friday. And I'm here because you are the leaders of tomorrow," the secretary general told the students.

"The key and future of our city is, of course, education. The greatest gift I can give to a child here in the city is a good quality education,," said Chicago's Mayor Daley.

"To have the secretary general come here my senior year after we started at my freshman year, it's the culmination of everything we have worked so hard on," said Clayton Weimers, a student at Walter Payton.

With the Global Classroom program, the mayor believes the city becomes a gateway for international, academic rising stars.