PEN High Mock Trial Team Places High In L.A. County Competition
• Students learn a wide variety of professional and personal skills during the program.
Peninsula High’s Mock Trial team concluded its season on Nov. 18, placing in the top 16 teams competing in the Los Angeles County Mock Trial program.
The program gives students the opportunity to experience a simulation of a real trial, with students playing the roles of lawyers, witnesses, bailiffs, and more.
The competition takes place once a year, during November, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles, where more than 2,500 middle schools and high schools compete. Teams must go through several rounds against other schools’ teams in order to move forward and, eventually, reach the finals.
For Peninsula, however, placing within the top 16 schools was no easy feat.
“Peninsula’s Mock Trial team has not made it to the ‘sweet sixteen’ round in years, let alone surpass the second round of competition and go directly into the third round,” Mock Trial co-president and senior Lauren Kim said. “I could not have asked for a better board and co-presidents to have led the team to where we are now.”
Made up of more than 30 members, Peninsula’s Mock Trial program is run by both students and coaches. The coaches utilize their experience as lawyers to help guide the students during the competition.
With the coaches is the student board, which consists of three presidents, two vice presidents, two secretaries and one treasurer. The board aids the coaches in helping students learn the necessary skills to compete.
Kim has been part of the Mock Trial program since middle school. This year marked her fifth year in the program. Throughout those years, she continued to enjoy the intensity and competitiveness of the program while forming friendships with her peers in the program.
“I initially joined Mock Trial as a way to meet new people and to improve my public speaking skills,” Kim said. “It was also a unique activity that I had never partaken in before, and I wanted to test the waters. But now, I could not have asked for a better board or co-presidents to have led the team with this year.”
Mock Trial co-president and senior Justin An has also been part of the program for five years. As seniors, An and Kim have seen the team shift its dynamics over the past several years, but this year’s board brought an abrupt change to the usual structure of the team. An considered these developments with a positive outlook.
“This year we changed the structure of our team and our meetings, and I saw how much it helped our team develop our case and advance,” An said. “We tried a new technique in terms of how we trained all of the members, which was definitely stressful at times. [However], it ended up leading us to greater success than we initially imagined, which was both exciting and relieving.”
With this new structure, students were placed in organized, smaller teams that helped them focus more on their roles, as well as efficiently distribute work. In contrast, in previous years students were place in their respective “Black” and “Gold” teams, which were much larger and less focused on specific roles. This new format helped give students a different perspective on how to approach their roles, thus helping the team reach the top 16 teams within the competition.
However, the goals and benefits of the program are not just to progress in the competition and learn public speaking skills. The Mock Trial program also helps turn initial interests into real passions for the program and the people in it, just as it did for Mock Trial treasurer and junior Ananya Chaudhari.
“I love how Mock Trial allows students to learn new things about themselves that they may not have ever discovered on their own before,” An said. “I have learned valuable information and tips from students older and younger than me that I know I will carry on throughout my life.”
Placing within the top 16 was a victory for Peninsula’s team. However, the lessons learned and relationships made from this program will also leave a lasting impact on the members as they go on through high school and beyond.
“[My time on the team] has taught me, other graduating seniors and continuing members how to collaborate and communicate with others while understanding the world around them,” Kim said. “Mock Trial is such a privilege to experience, and the memories made are not something made to fade but to last a lifetime.”