Thursday, March 4, 2010
MA Mock Trial Team competes at state
Marshall Academy travelled to the State High School Mock Trial Competition, sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division of the Mississippi Bar Association, on February 26-27.
This is only the second year Marshall has participated in the Mock Trial program. MA teacher Sarah Miller served again as team sponsor. Phillip Knecht of Holly Springs and Tony Farese of Ashland returned as attorney coaches.
Mock Trial serves as a way for students to participate in a real courtroom environment as if they were real attorneys and witnesses. Participants are able to cross-examine witnesses, direct-examine witnesses and perform opening and closing arguments.
Taking part in mock trial competitions provides students with the understanding of the Mississippi Judicial system, improving basic life skills, along with communication and cooperation among students, teachers and attorneys from the community, according to the Young Lawyers Division of the Mississippi Bar Association.
Marshall Academy competed in the district competition at Oxford on February 13 with two teams. The first team consisted of sophomores Tyler Berry, Katherine Farese, Michael Farese, Kirby Jones, Elgin Lafever, Davis Kelly, Josh Petree and Brittany Stewart. The second team’s members included seniors Kenneth Feathers, Duncan Baker, Dixon Hewlitt, Kristin Mynatt and Josh Thompson; juniors Erin Viger and Danielle Stanley; and sophomore Tyler Cook.
The first team was able to gain one of only four spots representing the north half of the state to advance to the statewide competition in Jackson. Other competing teams in the region included Oxford, Tupelo and the Mississippi School for Math and Science.
Other district competitions were held in Jackson, Hattiesburg and the Gulf Coast. Overall, only 20 teams could advance to the statewide competition held at the Hinds County Courthouse in Jackson.
Both teams travelled to Jackson, which was made possible by the Parent Teacher Committee of Marshall Academy.
“Both teams needed this experience,” Miller said. “The PTC was incredibly supportive, as they always are of academic efforts at MA. I cannot thank them enough for what they have done to help these kids and let them know that their hard work is appreciated.”
Attorney coach Tony Farese said, “We took both teams so that everyone could have this experience together. The kids did a fantastic job and won two of the four matches. The two matches we lost were extremely close and we came within just a few points of winning those.”
Marshall Academy first competed on Friday, February 26, and immediately advanced into the winner’s bracket for the evening round of competition. The team finished the second round late Friday evening but had to gear up for the next round at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
“We had some really long days of competing and we were possibly the smallest school in attendance,” said Knecht, who is also a member of the Young Lawyers Division. “The kids have worked so hard and they did an amazing job of representing their school, as well as their entire district.”
The competition this year had the teams present a civil lawsuit featuring copyright infringement of music. The case was fictional but based on actual events focusing on a student who allegedly illegally downloaded music from the “Slimewire” application.
“The team did really well this year because they put a lot of work into it,” Miller said. “We have been practicing two and three times a week for months. Our attorney coaches, Mr. Farese and Mr. Knecht, have done an amazing job with the kids and have put an extraordinary amount of their own time in this. It paid off. Next year, all the sophomores and juniors will come back and I have a feeling they’ll be unstoppable.”
Farese, who is also a board member at the school, was also proud of his team members.
“I think the success of this team is a direct result of the leadership of our teacher sponsor Sarah Miller and the leadership she provides them every day at Marshall Academy,” he said. “Phillip Knecht and I had the privilege of being attorney coaches and it was truly our pleasure to get to work with these talented kids. This was a very rewarding experience and it’s something these kids should be very proud of. It is a great accomplishment for them, as well as for Marshall Academy.”
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