Whether they plan to pursue a career in law or just want to improve their public speaking skills, students from Seaford High School’s Mock Trial team found great value in a pair of competitions this year.
The Mock Trial team took part in two simulated court cases at the Nassau County Supreme Court building, squaring off against Valley Stream South and West Hempstead high schools. Each time, six members of the Seaford team participated, with three serving as attorneys and the other three as witnesses. Against Valley Stream, they were the plaintiffs, before arguing as the defense against West Hempstead, giving them experience with both sides.
After the holiday break, the team received information about the case, which was a mock civil case about a construction worker suing a homeowner after falling off a ladder. Mock Trial members reviewed the case and all the documents, assigned roles and determined questions they would ask in court.
“It’s a full court proceeding, using actual court language,” adviser Alex Becker said. “When I was watching them, there were times I forgot it was Mock Trial and felt like it was a real case.”
This year’s team included Angelina Brodie, Kieran Calderaro, Brianna Carnival, Grace Costello, Samantha Ferrara, Dylan Malone, Emma Masie, John McComiskey, Theodore McComiskey, Faith Schaefer and Emma Simcox.
Samantha noted that besides learning about courtroom etiquette, taking part in Mock Trial was a good lesson in teamwork. A lot of advance preparation was required to make sure everyone was on the same page heading into the competitions.
Emma Simcox said she gained tremendous confidence to speak in front of others. Theodore echoed that sentiment, noting it was a different kind of public speaking than the prepared class presentations they are used to. In Mock Trial, they had to be ready for unexpected questions and objections from the other side.
“You have to be thinking about what’s coming next,” Dylan added.
Angelina was the only student to take part in both cases, serving as an attorney in one and a witness in the other. She also was on Mock Trial as a freshman, when it was held over Zoom, and said nothing compares to an in-person courtroom experience.
The Mock Trial cases were argued in front of actual judges, and the team also had a volunteer attorney mentor as they prepared for the competition.
Although the team did not win either case, they are poised for great success in the future, as most of the students plan to be back next year and now have this experience to learn from. Faith noted that they had many successes while arguing their two cases.
“You can recognize when you’ve done well and can be proud of yourself, even if you didn’t win the whole thing,” she said.
–Submitted by the Seaford School District