Middle School Mock Trial Teams Earn Top Honors In State Showcase

Harding's team.

Garfield and Harding middle schools each took two teams to Columbus to compete in the statewide Middle School Mock Trial Showcase sponsored by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education, where 47 middle school teams went to trial against each other over a three-day period in early May at the Ohio Supreme Court Building. Each of the schools' team members earned numerous "Best" awards in the process.

Garfield’s Gold and Purple teams won 5 of 8 possible “Best” awards: Jazi Dunay and Chaiya Herberger won “Best Attorney”, while Corrine Wroblewski, Dominic Peck, and Erica Frischauf won “Best Witness” awards.

Harding came home with 6 out of 8 possible “Best” awards:  Ed Horton, Zoe Pace, Rhiannon Riker, and Julia Kompier all won “Best Witness” awards, while Alex Hodson and Leah Campbell won “Best Attorney” awards for their trials.  

Overall, all four of Lakewood’s Garfield and Harding teams just missed the cutoff for the highest Superior ranking (98 or above). Harding’s teams averaged 95.5 and 96; Garfield’s teams averaged 95 and 96.5. Only 5 out of the 47 teams achieved that top Superior rating.

This year, the Middle School Mock Trials were based on the book "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry," by Mildred Taylor, in which a main character is charged with aggravated murder. Each middle school team subdivides into a prosecution and a defense squad, and prepares for two different trials against other Ohio middle schools. Students take on the roles of attorneys, witnesses, and bailiff/timers; trials occur in real courtrooms in front of real attorneys who act as trial judges and who rate teams on case understanding, professional demeanor, oratory skills, and understanding of trial technique and courtroom procedure. With two teams each, both Harding and Garfield had two trials running simultaneously in the morning, and another two in the afternoon!

At Garfield, thanks go to Mr. Dan Smith, who coached both teams, and to Ms. Lisa Andrasak, Ms. April Hoy, and Mr. Ouimet Smith for chaperoning the trip. Very special thanks go to Dan Smith’s wife Peggy Ferraro, an attorney who served for the third year as Garfield’s legal consultant, spending two full afternoons working with students in class. For the first time, she also served as a mock trial judge in Columbus.

Garfield’s team members were: Haley Benjamin, Zoe Bowers, Baird Bracken, Eric Bumm, Gavin Burgess, Tate Calaway, Gillian Coulson, Jazi Dunay, James Ferry, Vinnie Filippelli, Logan Friend, Erica Frischauf, Fiona Gjermeni, Chaiya Herberger, Jake Hirsch, Sophia Kowalski, Maddie Magda-McKinney, George Mossman, Charlie Payne, Dominic Peck, Emily Potoczak, Eleanor Rogers, Owen Rumsey, Thaissa Santos, Bode Smith, Arabella Spear, Adam Steinbrick, Ryann Stirling, Ethan Waller, and Corrine Wroblewski.

At Harding, Mrs. Sonja Kreps guided her 7th and 8th grade teams along with help from countless attorneys and judges present during the week of playoffs, which decided Harding’s teams. A special thank you to Mr. Dan Shields who not only judged during the playoffs and coordinated the attendance of many of the lawyers and judges, but also accompanied the teams on the bus to Columbus where he also judged two cases. Thank you to Mrs. Horton as well for riding the bus and attending trials in Columbus.

A thank you also goes to the Lakewood Rangers Education Foundation for its donation that helped make the trip possible.

Harding’s 8th grade students participating were: Lydia Kress, Meredith Wheeler, Sophia Monteiro, Rhiannon Riker, Rocco Crino, Jay Schmoldt, Alex Hodson, Sarah Dorn, Julia Kompier, Conner Millsaps, Jamie Holland, Jonas Evans, Luke Sweeney, Alex Horton, Ava Bruening, Ava Jaskulski, Clare Morrissey, Maddy Rybak, Grace Lamparyk, and Lila Wright.  The 7th graders attending/competing were: Olivia Diemert, Caroline Baas, Rowan Brown, Cameron Wereb, Zoe Pace, Emily Jarecke, Leah Campbell, Michael Klasa, Ed Horton, Jana Evans, Jonathan Reighard, Ashley Van Gunten, Reagan Bratko, Ronan Barley, Caitlin Salo, and Grace Bratko.

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Volume 15, Issue 11, Posted 6:03 PM, 06.05.2019