St. Mary's Academy Advances to State in Mock Trial Competition with 2nd Place Win in Arapahoe County Contest

(Left to Right) The winning team of Saffron Bennett-Spurlock, Emma Seneshen, Tess Hayden, Alexandra May, Carolyn Johnsen, Lola Faix, Grace Murphy, and Lilly Humber.

The eight-member Mock Trial "A Team" of St. Mary's Academy earned 2nd Place honors in the Arapahoe County Regional Mock Trial Tournament on February 20 and will advance to the state competition in March. 

"We are delighted to be able to represent SMA at the state competition," says four-year member Lilly. "Finding out we were the highest scoring team in our final round was such a rewarding moment, and we couldn’t have done it without the amazing support of those watching!”

The nearly 40-year tradition of the Colorado Bar Association was adapted for the pandemic this year, placing the contestant prosecution and defense teams in Zoom courtrooms instead traditional courtrooms at the courthouse. The extra challenges did not deter the students, who were roundly praised by Judge John L. Wheeler of the Colorado District Court, who presided over the final round.

"I've not been so impressed in years!" he remarked of the St. Mary's Academy vs. Kent Denver teams in the final round. "The confidence...the eye contact...truly phenomenal."

A team from Regis Jesuit High School gained top berth in the two-day tournament, with teams from Kent Denver rounding out the top four teams headed to state. 

"I am so proud of the effort all our teams put in, given the difficulties of not being able to directly work together. They've learned to adapt and embrace these challenges and still seek to constantly improve," says faculty sponsor, Latricia Davis. The winning team also received coaching from local attorneys Chris Humber and Alan Pogue.

St. Mary's Academy fielded three teams totaling 29 students at this year's competition that was coordinated by the Arapahoe County Bar Association, which often sees top winners at the state championships.

The Mock Trial Program is a positive academic program that gives students an opportunity to expand their speaking, writing, reading, and analytical skills while learning about the judicial system. Mock trial teams are composed of six to twelve students who perform a case for the Prosecution/Plaintiff and/or the Defense. In most cases, an actual Colorado judge or magistrate presides over the trial round while attorneys, paralegals and community members adjudicate the student performances. In any mock trial round, three students serve as attorneys to argue their side of the case, and three students serve as witnesses for direct and cross-examinations.

The Colorado State Mock Trial Champion team will participate in the National High School Mock Trial Championship (NHSMTC) tournament held in May. For more information about the NHSMTC, go to www.nationalmocktrial.org.