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Middle school students excel at annual Mock Trial competition

Watauga County Schools held its 2023 Mock Trial competition on Dec. 14, 2023. As always, students did an excellent job demonstrating their public speaking skills as well as knowledge of courtroom procedures. 

Mock Trial is an annual middle school competition for all Watauga County schools. In the past,  it was a regional and state level competition. However, funding for the regional and state competitions ran out over time. WCS decided to continue having the trials as an in-county competition just for fun.  

"I am very proud of all of our students that participated in this event,” said district AIG coordinator Jake Orange. “Students dressed the part and showed up ready to win.  I know the work that students put into preparing for Mock Trial.  It absolutely showed in their performance.  These were some of the closest scores I have seen in many years."

According to Orange, most students take Mock Trial as an exploratory (elective) class in the fall.  At most schools, the AIG Specialist teaches the course. In preparation for competition day, AIG specialists reach out to local attorneys to help prepare students. This helps to connect students with working professionals and make the entire experience more meaningful.  

"I would like to thank Appalachian State University's Dr. Betsy Rosenbalm alongside our Public School Partnership for hosting this event at the Reich College of Education building,” Orange said. “I am also grateful to the dozens of community volunteers that served as judges and jurors during the trials. Our students benefit from a strong community and university partnership."

The day of the competition, Students compete in two trials with different schools. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge provides specific oral feedback to students. Following the feedback, students vote on the "Most Effective Attorney" and "Most Effective Witness" for the opposing team. Those selected are provided with a certificate of recognition. At the closing ceremony, medals are awarded to students receiving the highest numerical scores from the judge and jury in each trial.

Superintendent of schools Dr. Leslie Alexander was present during the closing ceremony and spoke before medals were presented. She shared her own experience participating in a mock trial when she was a student and how it was an empowering experience for her. 

“That event really changed my life and it gave me confidence and it helped me to know that I can speak in front of other people and that is a really important skill,” Alexander said. “Regardless of whether or not you go to law school or you do something else, what you did today and how you see yourself being able to do that, that is a really important way for you to envision yourself moving forward.”

The following students received medals for receiving the highest numerical scores in each trial. 

Nora P., Sonnie M., Riley M. and Eli S. from Blowing Rock School, Caden O. and Nolan S. from Cove Creek School, Ashlyn P. and Sierra C. from Green Valley School, Michelle S. and Dovie L. from Mabel School, Ella Q. and Harper C. from Hardin Park School, Coy G., Vanessa K., Chessy M., Grace B., Kira B., Lindsay W., Bryston C. and Grace T. from Parkway School and Judah M., Landen B., Peoria D. and Maia C. from Valle Crucis School.

Our district is proud of all students who participated in this wonderful competition. They practiced skills such as confidence and public speaking, in addition to their knowledge about courtroom procedures. These skills will serve them throughout their careers as students and beyond.

From Left: Dr. Alexander, Eli S. and Dovie L.

Dr. Alexander with Eli S. and Dovie L.

Dr. Alexander with students Grace T. and Riley M.

Dr. Alexander with Grace T. and Riley M. 

Dr. Alexander pictured with students Sierra S. and Bryson C.

Dr. Alexander with Sierra S. and Bryson C.

Dr. Alexander with students Nolan S. and Lindsay W.

Dr. Alexander with Nolan S. and Lindsay W.

Dr. Alexander with students Maia C. and Kira B.

Dr. Alexander with Maia C. and Kira B.

Dr. Alexander with students Leoria D. and Harper C.

Dr. Alexander with Leoria D. and Harper C.

Dr. Alexander with students Sonnie M. and Landen B.

Dr. Alexander with Sonnie M. and Landen B.

Dr. Alexander with students Judah M. and Caden O.

Dr. Alexander with Judah M. and Caden O.

Dr. Alexander with students Michelle S. and Grace B.

Dr. Alexander with Michelle S. and Grace B.

Dr. Alexander with students Ashlyn P. and Chessy M.  

Dr. Alexander with Ashlyn P. and Chessy M. 

Dr. Alexander with students Vanessa K. and Ella Q.

Dr. Alexander with Vanessa K. and Ella Q.

Dr. Alexander with students Nora P. and Coy G.

Dr. Alexander with Nora P. and Coy G.