Mock trial teams advance

By Rob Treynor

February 20, 2014

A year after making it to the state competition, West Jefferson High School’s mock trial team has hopes of returning.

The school’s two teams face off against other schools this Friday, Feb. 21 at the Franklin County courthouse for the regional competition. If either team is successful, that team will then compete at the state level.

Advanced history teacher and mock trial coach Jenny Siddiqi is confident in her teams.

“These teams are both better prepared than our team was last year,” she said.

Since last year’s advancement to the state level, interest in the mock trial program has exploded among students. This school year, 19 are participating. Last year, there were eight.

In mock trial competitions, students participate in an original, unscripted simulated trial written by attorneys. High school students argue both sides of the case in real courtrooms.

West Jefferson’s mock trial team, made up of juniors and seniors, met every day during the school’s first semester in a classroom setting. It was during this class that it was determined which students would be counsel and which would be witnesses. With 19 people in the class, it meant creating two separate teams.

Both teams are divided into two, for arguing both sides of the case. Both sides have to win in order for the team to advance to the state competition.

At regionals, the two West Jefferson teams will be up against three teams from Dublin Jerome High School, three teams from Westerville North High School, plus teams from Village Academy, Worthington Kilbourne, Pickerington Central and Upper Arlington.

West Jefferson High School principal David Metz publicly praised the team for making it to the regionals during a Jefferson Local Schools board of education meeting, held last week.

“Besides advancing, our students took seven of the eight individual honors as voted by the judges,” Metz said. “Best attorneys were Allison Haskins, Austin Murry, Bethany Maynard and Ally Smith. Best witnesses were Maddie Phillips, Andrew Lewis and Dave Smith. Twenty eight teams participated and nine teams advanced, two of which were from West Jefferson High School.”

Metz contributed the success of the students to the excellent preparations the students received from advanced history teacher Jenny Siddiqi and community volunteer Marla Farbacher.

“I want to publicly congratulate our advisors Mrs. Jenny Siddiqi and Mrs. Marla Farbacher for the tremendous work they do,” Metz said. “Our kids are really excited about it and our student body is excited about it.”

Rob Treynor can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or via Twitter @robtreynor. Freelance reporter Kevin Dye contributed to this story.