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Foothillers lawyer up for Mock Trial Competition

Posted: April 28th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Foothiller Footsteps, News | No Comments

By Connie and Lynn Baer | Foothiller Footsteps

For the fourth year, in March Grossmont High School students participated in the San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition, which is sponsored by local, state, and federal courts and the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA).

Each high school team consists of between eight and 25 students. SDCBA assists in providing lawyer coaches while the courts provide the judges and the courtrooms. This year, 29 county high schools participated in the competition.

Mock trial team members: (l to r) front row: Jennifer Truong (attorney coach), Kennedy Nolta, Isabella Gargano, Megan Williams, Sophia Wulftange Mungia, Pamela Torresdey, Liliana Guerrero, Jillian Dawson; back row: Holly Jones (teacher coach), Carley Freedman, Sarvenaz Karbasi, Cristina Misas, Ashley Prus, Alyssa Chong, Brycen Carter, Caleb Cheek, Luis Escobar. Not pictured: Cayla Macres, Tenenma Sirleaf (Courtesy GHS Museum)

Advanced Placement Government teacher Holly Jones said that the mission of the program is “to foster understanding and respect for the American legal system and for the rule of law. The program seeks to develop high school students into better citizens by familiarizing them with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights through academic competition, enhancing students’ ability to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to work as a team.”

The Foothiller team was comprised of 15 seniors and one junior. The students dedicated over four months of training, including more than 40 hours of their time. Most of the 16 students are AP Government students who volunteered for the team and were selected after trying out.

Grossmont’s three attorney coaches from the California State Attorney General’s Office were Kimberley Donohue, Laura Glennon, and Jennifer Truong.

“This is our first year breaking into the top 10,” said Truong after she received the team’s scores. “Thanks to all your hard work and commitment, we placed sixth out of 29 schools. And one of our many amazing students, Bella Gargan, won Outstanding Prosecution Attorney!”

Only three of the top 10 teams are public schools, while the rest are private schools. This was the first year that Grossmont was ranked in the top 10. In the last round of competition, Grossmont received nearly perfect scores in nine categories: 19 out of 20 in five, and 18 out of 20 in four.

“Our Mock Trial team this year was focused, hard-working, and determined,” said Jones. “We were all very excited with our sixth (out of 30) place win and, as coaches, we were very pleased all of their hard work paid off. They were an outstanding group this year.”

Jones had her students comment on the experience. Their comments were anonymous so they could be more honest, she said. Here are some examples:

“Mock Trials gave me much greater confidence in public speaking.”

“I gained respect for the arduous process and the judicial system as a whole through experiencing it first hand.”

“Mock trial has taught me perseverance, passion, and belief in what I’m doing and the value of hard work.”

“I was able to meet wonderful people who I would not have interacted with before. I am grateful for the experience.”

To learn more about Grossmont’s 96-year history and wonderful student experiences such as these, visit us or explore our GHS Museum website. The Museum is open noon-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, and by appointment.

—Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the Grossmont High School Museum. To reach the museum, email ghsmuseum@guhsd.net , call 619-668-6140, or visit online at foothillermuseum.com.

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