Mock Trial Team wins regional event
– advances to state “Final Four”
For the second year in a row, a team of 12 Upper St. Clair High School students won the regional Mock Trial Championship and advanced to the state finals – finishing among the top four in Pennsylvania.
Upper St. Clair’s Mock Trial team is comprised of seniors Amna Amin, Tyler Clark, Raahema Durrani, Yash Lahoti, Natalie Urban, Vicki Wang and team captain Arushi Kewalramani; junior Wyatt Keating; and freshmen Sunny Chai, Sam Dvorin, Ian Rankin and Anika Sinha. The students were coached by Pat Palazzolo, gifted education coordinator, and assisted by Connie Gibson, gifted education teacher. In addition, Philip Keating, parent of team member Wyatt, served as the team’s attorney advisor.
“The weeks of preparation, coupled with experience gained from last year – the first time an Upper St. Clair team had ever advanced to the State Finals – led to exciting results,” Ms. Palazzolo said. “The team made the ‘Final Four,’ losing only to Greensburg Salem – the school that went on to win the state championship for a fifth time.”
This year more than 300 teams from 252 high schools competed in district and regional levels of the mock trial competition to attain one of only 14 spots at the statewide event. The 34th Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, one of the largest in the nation, was held March 24-25, 2017, in Harrisburg.
“Beginning in mid-December, our Upper St. Clair team spent many hours preparing the case, including Sunday and Wednesday evening practices and Monday after-school sessions,” Ms. Palazzolo said. “The students worked hard to refine their skills.”
Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Mock Trial provides a hands-on opportunity to learn about the American legal system. Taking on the roles of lawyers and witnesses, students develop direct and cross-examinations, prepare opening and closing arguments, learn to object to opposing counsel, and practice the formalities of the courtroom before actual judges and panels of jurors. This year's hypothetical case was a criminal trial to determine whether a defendant was guilty of committing an act of arson that destroyed an advanced automotive plant.
“Our success this year was really a culmination of three years of preparation, so we were all excited to see our hard work pay off!” Team Captain Arushi Kewalramani said.
Ms. Palazzolo noted that witnessing the team’s powerful performance was bittersweet because seven students – over half the team – will be graduating in June.
“These seniors will be greatly missed, but they can rest assured that their effort in working with the ninth graders means that they are passing the torch to an unusually well-prepared group of freshmen,” Ms. Palazzolo said.
For more information about the PBA Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, visit www.pabar.org
• Seated: Yash Lahoti, Wyatt Keating, Ian Rankin, Tyler Clark
• Standing: Vicki Wang, Natalie Urban, Arushi Kewalramani, Raahema Durrani, Anika Sinha, Sunny Chai, Amna Amin
• Not pictured: Samuel Dvorin