I have participated in many clubs and organizations throughout high school, but the one I have enjoyed the most is Mock Trial.
Most people have no idea what Mock Trial is. Let me give you an insider's perspective of what goes on in the Mock Trial world at Valparaiso High School and why I think it is a good experience.
Like most clubs, there is a call-out meeting. Teams are composed of witnesses and lawyers, at least three of each, but no more than eight students on a team. To be either a lawyer or a witness requires the ability to memorize, speak in public and improvise. It is not necessary to want to pursue a career in law to participate in Mock Trial; in fact, most kids in Mock Trial are interested in other fields.
Each state has a different case for all high schools within that state. Each case consists of six witness statements, an introduction, case summary, stipulations, instructions and exhibits. I didn't know what these things were when I started, but that was OK.
Valparaiso High School is very lucky to have multiple coaches, most of whom are lawyers. The coaches spend the first week or so teaching the newcomers everything they need to know about legal terms and procedures.
The witnesses do not have to know as much as the lawyers do in the way of legal terms and objections, but they have plenty to do. They must memorize the witness statements. They need to know everything there is to know about a specific witness in the case, and they testify as that person.
After weeks of preparation, you travel to the federal courthouse in Hammond for the regional competition. Everything takes place in actual courtrooms. There is no jury, but there is a judge. There is a regional competition, a state competition and a national competition.
Mock Trial has given me confidence in my abilities I didn't know I could have.
When I joined, I gave serious thought to dropping out while I still could. Each witness statement was eight to 10 pages long, and I had to memorize two of them since we had only three witnesses on our team. I didn't think I would be able to remember everything, and I feared letting my teammates down. However, upon hearing my teammates express the same concerns, and meeting the coaches and learning of their confidence in all of us, I began to develop confidence in myself. We all worked well together and constantly motivated each other.
I am very proud to be a member of the first Mock Trial team to have represented Valparaiso High School at the national competition. We achieved success not only as a team, but also as individuals.
I know how incredible it is to be able to rely on teammates and to have the confidence in yourself to allow them to rely on you. Mock Trial may seem like a lot to take in, and it is, but it is certainly doable, especially with the help from coaches and teammates. You'll learn things you can't learn anywhere else, you'll meet new people you otherwise never would have met, and you will develop a sense of self-confidence that will help you throughout your entire life.