Wheelersburg takes home the Mock Trial trophy


WHEELERSBURG- Of all school clubs and activities, one of the hardest to prepare for is the well-known and respected mock trial competition. Early in the school year, students receive an example case between two parties and they form teams to compete in a legal system against other schools. Students are expected to learn the basics of law and presentation, while studying the supplied case. After months of students getting into character as witnesses and student attorneys preparing for anything and everything that could happen in a trial, they go against another team and see which school has dedicated the most time to learning the case inside and out. It takes hours and hours of memorization, coming up with strategies and planned responses, and more.

After many practices, the Scioto County District Mock Trial Competition took place at the end of January to decide the victor on a local level.

The competitions took place in all four courtrooms at the Scioto County Courthouse in Portsmouth. The team from Wheelersburg emerged as the Scioto County District Champions and will now advance to regional competition on February 16, joined by the Runner-Up team from Portsmouth West High School.

The Scioto County District Competition included teams from seven schools, Clay, Chesapeake, Eastern Pike, Portsmouth West, St. Joseph (Ironton), Valley (with two teams), and Wheelersburg.

“I’m very proud of this team,” Wheelersburg Mock Trial Coach Evan Wills said. “They are a tremendous group of young people who dedicate a ton of time, energy, and work to Mock Trial. We have strong senior leadership from Abyghale Jones, Hayden Lewis and Jerry Zheng. We’ve had really strong performances from students in new roles like Addison Bowling taking on an attorney role and Nick Sylvia doing a great job as a witness. Some students have stayed in similar roles and just continued to grow year after year like Brady Schomburg at witness or Addison Mullins and Trevan King at attorney. We’ve also been fortunate to get an infusion of new talent like Madalyn Reed at witness or Van Lauderback and Rudra Patel helping and supporting the team in so many roles. Coach Eric Kephas and I are truly honored by the work they put in and the performances they give.”

The Wheelersburg Championship High School team included Legal Advisor Eric Kephas, Hayden Lewis, Addison Bowling, Addison Mullins, Trevan King, Madalyn Reed, Nicholas Sylvia, Abyghale Jones, Brady Schomburg, Jerry Zheng, Vance Lauderback, Rudra Patel, and Coach Evan Wills. The runner-up Portsmouth West team included Legal Advisor Christine Scott, Kara Carter, Kylee Pollitt, Georgia Roe, Carlos Scott, Claira Davis, Jeremy Gravely, Elijah Kasper, Logan Ralstin, Mollie Morrissette, and Coach Molly Sylvia.

After students compete in the regionals, winners will continue to the state competition March 7-9. The 2024 state champion team will represent Ohio at the National High School Mock Trial Championship which will take place on May 2-5 in Wilmington, Delaware and is hosted by the Delaware Law-Related Education Center.

Outstanding Attorney awards were presented to Kara Carter of Portsmouth West High School, Sam Walker of St. Joseph High School, Miranda Napier and Ian Johnson of Chesapeake High School, Nathan Cooper of Valley High School, and Addison Bowling and Addison Mullins of Wheelersburg High School .

Outstanding Witness awards were presented to Eric Wang and Delaney James of Clay High School, Alex Gnau and Sam Walker of St. Joseph High School, Evan Hines and Anna Lesh of Eastern Pike High School, and Brady Schomburg and Madalyn Reed of Wheelersburg High School.

The Scioto County District Competition is coordinated by Sharee Price of the South Central Ohio ESC and Judge Howard H. Harcha, III.

“Participation in the Mock Trial Program helps students develop an understanding of their constitutional rights and responsibilities as well as an appreciation for the law, court procedures, and our judicial system,” Price said. “Students improve their critical thinking and public speaking skills as they study the case and decide how to best present their arguments and learn how to work together as a team. Overall, I believe the program helps students build self-confidence as they learn how to think on their feet and present their thoughts within the guidelines provided by the program.”

Price has been involved in the Mock Trial competition for many years and is always impressed with how prepared students are for the competition and how seriously they take their education.

“I watched the dress rehearsals for Mock Trial and was truly amazed by the students’ knowledge and the way the students conducted themselves in the courtroom. The judges for this event are practicing judges and lawyers and many of them commented on how impressed they were with the students’ knowledge and ability to present their arguments during the competition. The coaches and legal advisors for the teams also deserve to be recognized for all the time and effort they put into preparing the students for this event. It requires a huge commitment on everyone’s part to be really prepared to compete. While not all of the students who participate in Mock Trial will go on to study the law or become lawyers; they all benefit from having a better understanding of our legal system and how it works.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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