Pictured left to right: Julian Zolenski, Ally Alkema, Alyssa Delaney, Rishika Kokkula, Kayla Hazeltine, Blake Judge, Parker Thompson, Natalie Mouw, Sam Sietsema, Chief US District Judge D.P. Marshall, Jr.
The Eastern Mock Trial Team had the honor of being part of the first proceedings after the restoration of the historic courtroom where Thurgood Marshall argued the case for desegregation in the Little Rock School District and the students who would become known as the Little Rock Nine. The courtroom was recently restored to its original condition and will be part of a living history exhibit in the Federal Courthouse in Little Rock. The students are pictured next to the original witness chair from 1957.
This was Eastern’s first ever trip to Nationals. To get here they beat out both Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor United to clinch the state title.
With tremendous community and parental support, the students all agreed the experience was a highlight of their year. One senior said in four years of high school, this was the best experience. Mock trial takes hours of practice, each year beginning with a 70 – 80 pages set of facts, witness statements and federal laws for the students to master, and then a brand new case to learn in six weeks before Nationals. They practiced four days a week leading up to Nationals, approximately 15 hours a week or more.
The team finished in the middle of the pack at Nationals, but had several rounds that were extremely close, in fact “splitting ballots” – which means out of three scoring judges, the other team received two ballots while Eastern received one. The team is eager to take their new understanding of the level of competition into preparation for next year. They hope to return to Nationals!
Thank you to all the teachers who accommodated the students’ absences from class! They were prepared, poised and professional throughout the entire tournament.