Mock Trial and the Wrap Up
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Cleveland’s Mock Trial finished their season on Saturday, March 4 with their annual regional competition. They had the opportunity to showcase their skills in the courtroom to all the other schools involved.
Mock Trial is a team of students who prepare legal arguments for a state-provided case and compete against other teams for sport. Each student plays the role of an attorney or a witness in the trial. Cleveland’s team in particular prepares for both the prosecution and defense sides of a case, which in turn advances students’ legal knowledge.
At regionals, only the top four teams were qualified to compete at state. St. Mary’s, Grant, Lincoln, and Riverdale were those top four teams. Cleveland unfortunately did not make top four; however, the team was still satisfied with their overall execution. Cleveland students Taylor Lewis, Ally Grimaldi, Peter Fink, Casey Tran, and Gwen Kaliszewski were even voted as best mock participants.
“We had a great team this year with enough participation to bring two teams to the regionals [the CHS Gold and CHS Green teams],” Mock Trial coach and Cleveland alumnus Natalie Wight explained. “With 11 seniors graduating last year and only three seniors on the team, we knew it would be a building year.”
Cleveland has been preparing and working hard since the beginning of the school year. Alongside weekly meetings, this preparation includes participation in what team members call a “mini mock,” an unscored practice case against rival schools. This was scheduled to occur on Dec. 9, but was cancelled due to snow implications. Cleveland coaches Wight and Casey Nokes privately organized a session for Cleveland and two other teams to carry out the case, so not all was lost.
For regionals, Cleveland’s Mock Trial team got a hold on their case following mini mock, where the team began figuring out roles. These parts included the students who would be making opening and closing statements, as well as mockers who would be cross examining and direct examining witnesses. The team spent time creating, revising, and memorizing their arguments and practiced consistently to make their prosecution and defense cases clear and convincing.
Cleveland competed in two teams, the CHS Gold team and the CHS Green team. The gold team consisted of seniors and students that had been on the team for longer periods of time, while the green team was made up of newer and younger competitors. Even though the Cleveland team was split into two, there was still the connection throughout the entire group.
At regionals, “everyone really worked as a team,” junior Camila Mejia explained. “There’s different parts, and there’s people who are lawyers and witnesses. We all kind of made sure each separate part came together and had a common theme, and that really helped us really well.”
At the beginning of the year, the teams worked together to work on cases, but from then on, the teams remained separate to maintain focus on their specific cases and roles. They still kept in contact as a group, but the split teams made for better concentration on what students were assigned to.
Students in Mock Trial were extremely satisfied on how this year turned out. The students loved every aspect of the trials and the cases. “I really like when the other team objects to you because you really have to think on your feet and just figure it out right then and there, and it feels so good, especially when you say the right thing and then they don’t know what to say,” said sophomore Stella Robertson.
Even the coaches were proud to say that this year students were not afraid to put in work. “My husband, Casey Nokes, and I love coaching the team, and are always amazed at the time and dedication that the students give for this after school [and weekend] club team,” Wight explained. She is even already enthusiastic about how next year will turn out stating that “Next year we have an amazing team. We expect strong leadership from next year’s seniors Ariel Harmon, Grace Oh, Camila Mejia, and Emily Swinth. And we had eight standout newcomers this year, including Lauren ‘the powerhouse’ Woodhouse. We are all hoping to advance to the state tournament next year!”
This team had a prodigious season where all students felt eager to stand their ground in the court. Natalie Wight along with all of the participants this year believe that Mock Trial can only improve and become stronger from here.