On Friday, January 17th, Kenton High Schools’ Mock Trial team, known this year as “Mocking Jay,” competed in the Ohio Centers for Law Related Education (OCLRE)’s Mock Trial District Competition held at the Marion County Family Courthouse. Mocking Jay faced other Ohio district teams who were there competing, including: Marysville High School and West Liberty-Salem High School.
The team of 16 members was the largest to date from KHS to compete in the OCLRE competition. It was comprised of the following students: KHS Freshman: Mario Arreola, Owen Ducan, Kiara Good, Raven Grogan, Taylor Headings, Wyatt Kindell, Shane Spencer, Jenna White, and Jarron Willoby; KHS Sophomores: Josh Boyer, Andrew Fox, Chelsea Kalb, and Shelby Tillman; and KHS Juniors: Anissa Johnson, Mary McNutt, and Haylee Magann. The students assumed the roles of witnesses, attorneys, timekeepers, bailiffs, and legal researchers.
The team is coached by Christina Cross, KCS Career Readiness Advisor/WCC Internship Coordinator/CCP American Politics Teacher, who is also an attorney. Mrs. Cross competed in Mock Trial as a student, and she said the experience pointed her in the direction of pursuing a legal career. “While I am focused this year on bringing new career readiness programming to the District as well as enhancing our existing career opportunities for students, I believe that Mock Trial is one of the best career readiness experiences a student can have to learn whether they would be interested in a future legal career.”
OCLRE’s Mock Trial contest is the largest non-athletic contest for high school students wherein student teams assume the roles of witnesses and attorneys to present both sides of an original case based on a constitutional issue. Each team competes in two trials against opposing teams.
The 2020 Ohio Mock Trial case focuses on First Amendment student speech; specifically, the difference between on-campus and off-campus speech. Fictional plaintiff Rory Maldonado is suing their former high school and the high school principal for violating their First Amendment right to free speech. Rory was suspended from Senior Week activities and banned from walking at graduation due to involvement with and planning a demonstration for gun rights. Rory claims this was a violation of their rights because the event took place off-campus.
Mrs. Cross said that the interest in the team has grown each year that she has coached at KHS. “Although we had a novice team, the students enjoyed themselves and learned from competing against the more experienced teams. My hope is that they will bring this experience back with them to next year’s team.” She added, “Besides walking away with first-hand knowledge of trial work, I think that the most valuable lesson our students learn is how to conduct themselves with civility both inside and outside the courtroom.”