High school helping hands


Top row from left to right: Paige Vaden, Abigail Dockum, Karen Chen, Pratyusha Bujimalla, Millicent Varley, Riley Deutsch, Aditi Dinakar. Bottom row from left to right: Amy Nihart, Troy Ikeda, Rebecca McDowell, Lauren McDowell.

Ethan Marshall, Staff Writer

Amy Nihart was extremely nervous waiting on the results of the ninth graders’ mock trial Dec. 6. She helped count the ballots, but could not tell her team.

Nineteen students from the high school such as junior Abigail Dockum and junior Amy Nihart help out at middle school mock trial as coaches.

“They worked on it for four to six hours a week for practice,” Nihart said. “I was extremely nervous. You can’t do anything to help when something goes wrong.”

Most students’ first year of mock trial is eighth grade.

“Since this is their first year doing mock trial, they’re a lot more dependent on coaches,” junior Abigail Dockum said.

Dockum and Nihart helped two teams of 10 seventh graders prepare their parts for competition.

Mock trial teaches students about real life court cases and can be incorporated into the fields of public speaking, forensics and the law. A scenario of a legal case is given to each team and they develop their case using relevant law and witness statements.

The middle school’s Purple team finished fifth and Gold team finished eleventh. Each team earned a trophy and the award for professional conduct and decorum. The seventh grade team Dragon finished as a state qualifier and Fire Storm as a regional runner-up. Overall four students won the outstanding attorney at state medal.

The lawyers study legal terms and develop questions to prove their side and disprove the opponent. Witnesses must use the given statements to develop a character. The students have to think quick on their feet as an attorney would in a real life court case.  

Mock trial at the middle school however, is a type of program in the Enhanced Learning Program (ELP), led by Enhanced Learning Program Coordinator Kathy Paul.

In mock trial, there are four teams with ten students each. The high school students are able to work one on one with the ELP students for their individual needs.

Coaching mock trial can help with one with their own mock trial skills.

“Coaching can improve my mock trial skills, too, as it helps me review the basics and think about some of the things we often brush over on my high school team,” Dockum said.

Dockum has been involved with mock trial for four years starting in seventh grade, and her team has gone to state every year. She also helped coach a middle school team two years ago.

Coaches help the middle school teams learn the basics, revise their parts and answer their questions about the process. Another thing they work on with them is presentation factors such as volume, speed, and overall confidence.

Paul started the to recruit high school students to coach mock trial about 10 to 15 years ago.

“It was one of the best things for the (mock trial) program,” Paul said. “The high school students function as mentors and it helps improve their skills. We would not be as strong as a school without all of their assistance. They are very dedicated students.”