Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mock Trial Team Success

Mock Trial Team Success
The Mock Trial Team enjoyed a tremendous season. The program was founded just two-years ago by Social Studies teacher Jay Villagomez.  Jay did a remarkable job getting the program off the ground, and his successor, first-year teacher Ian Wilkins, proved adept at building off of that success and bringing the program to new heights. Ian Wilkins grabbed the reins despite being in the midst of a rookie season at GD, and did a fine job leading a group of ambitious students. In his typical humble yet well articulated manner, Ian Wilkins describes the season in detail below.

By Ian Wilkins
The G-D Mock Trial team entered into its third year with some uncertainty as to how the season would proceed. The team had come into being under the guidance of teacher Jay Villagomez, whose heavy schedule of obligations made it impossible for him to participate this year. At the outset, it was unclear to the returning team members whether they would be able to find a faculty member to take over.

Through a series of random occurrences, I agreed to take the role as advisor to the team, and I am so very glad I did. Seniors Brent Emerle and Colin Donaldson approached me with a plea for help. I was hesitant; it’s my first year teaching, and I was nervous about the possibility of taking on too much. They assured me that they would be the team leaders, true captains, with the main responsibilities for recruiting and teaching new members, organizing practices, and focusing the preparation. I saw a desire in their eyes to which I could not say no.

Brent and Colin lived up to their end of the bargain, and then some. I watched them grow as leaders, teachers, and team members. I saw them struggle and adjust, learn from their mistakes, and, as the trials came, lead their team into battle with confidence and poise. The success we experienced this season is due in the greatest part to the leadership of these two students.

Other returning members Cam Glennie (senior) and Clark Johnson (junior) also gave the team a strong backbone of experience. They each performed extremely well in the trials, and added important voices throughout the trial preparation process.

More than half of the team members were new this year. Senior Ethan Gaines, and freshmen Angelina Leach, Eli Sun, Andrew McCusker, and Arthur Wang, all performed impressively, especially considering that it was their first time at it.

Mock Trial is a complex and intense competition. The types of analysis, preparation, and performance these students go through are fascinating to watch. They have to know their material inside and out, and they have to spend the time and energy to get to that point. And it is also one of the most difficult kinds of events to coach:  I can’t communicate with them whatsoever during the trial, and I must maintain full courtroom decorum at all times--no expression of emotion, not even a fist pump. As you can imagine, with the very tight competitions we saw in our three trials, it was incredibly difficult for me to keep my mouth shut!

The main reason I agreed to advise Mock Trial is that it reminds me of the Model Legislature and Model U.N. competitions in which I participated during high school. I was even able to have Attorney Nicholas Meunier, a very good friend of mine who used to participate in these events with me (way back then), serve as the team’s Attorney-Coach. These events provide authentic, real-world experiences for these students, something which is impossible to manufacture within the walls of the school. When they enter the courtrooms, dressed like lawyers, carrying their legal documents, they are transformed from the students you see every day, and it is special to witness. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a trial in the coming years, I suggest you take it.

I also want to express my gratitude for everyone who helped the team and me out this year--Thank You!

The Groton Herald featured a story on the Mock Trial Team.


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