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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Mock trial season underway

Mattie Baker
Case closed. The mock trial team celebrates another victory. The team has competed in both tournaments and singular trials throughout the season.

There aren’t many extracurriculars out there made to introduce students to the world of law. Not only does the mock trial team accomplish this, it also helps students gain public speaking skills that will be useful in the future. 

The differences between mock trial and actual court cases are few and far between. The competitions are designed to play out precisely like real trials, with students acting as prosecutors, defenders and witnesses. 

“It’s challenging,” senior Julia Kline said. “It requires a lot of time and effort. The most difficult part is thinking on your feet and memorizing.”

Kline is a defense attorney. During a trial, she gives both a direct and cross examination, and she delivers the team’s closing statement. To prepare, she does her best to memorize these things while also working on her confidence, as she says that is key to winning a trial. 

“Mock trial helped me gain confidence not only in myself but also my public speaking skills,” Kline said. “It’s a lot of pressure but that comes with anything that’s worth putting effort in.”

So far, that effort has paid off for the team. At their first competition, a tournament in Pittsburgh, they went 3-1. And on Wednesday, Jan. 17, their prosecution won another trial allowing them to continue competing. 

We have a lot of new students this year, so we are a bit inexperienced,” adviser Makenzie Negri said. “But we are still doing well halfway through our competition season.”

This is sophomore Grace Hovan’s second year on the mock trial team. 

“I mostly joined it to try something new and because my sister was a part of it, but I ended up enjoying it way more than I thought I would,” Hovan said. “It’s definitely helped me improve public speaking skills and gotten me out of my comfort zone.”

Hovan is a witness for the team which involves answering questions from the prosecution and defense as whatever character she is assigned. 

“I can add personality [to it] and just have fun,” Hovan said. “But it can be very intimidating because you are in front of real judges, attorneys and in a real courtroom.”

Another challenging aspect of mock trial, Hovan said, is appealing to the judges.

“My least favorite thing is how subjective it can be,” Hovan said. “Some judges like things that others don’t. It’s hard to do exactly what they want.”

But mock trial is not a challenge without a reward. The students involved get the opportunity to learn the ways of the courtroom from experts, and get to travel to do so. And there are more benefits other than just personal ones. 

“It gives kids a voice that wouldn’t be heard otherwise,” Kline said. 

Hovan agreed that despite the hardworking nature of it, it has helped so many students, herself included, making it well worth it.

“It all comes with experience,” Hovan said. “Learning to be comfortable with your team and trusting them is important.”

Currently, they are preparing for their next trial on Feb. 1. 

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About the Contributor
Mattie Baker
Mattie Baker, Reporter
My name is Mattie Baker, and this is my first year on staff! I've always loved reading and writing. My goal this year is to write a complete book. My dream job, at the moment, is to work at Barnes & Nobles and drink Starbucks on the daily. I'm obsessed with action movies like "Bullet Train," "John Wick" and "James Bond." I also have a passion for art. I've been taking extra art classes for over 10 years! Later in my life, I hope to be a storyboard artist and author.

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  • C

    Carolyn KlineFeb 24, 2024 at 8:53 am

    Way to go, mock trial team! Very good article. Good luck at Regionals on March 9!

  • A

    Alexys DelfosseFeb 15, 2024 at 1:42 pm