Mock trial: Where the verdict doesn’t matter

Blake Weiman makes his case in mock trial.

In mock trial competitions, the verdict does not matter. What matters are students’ presentations of both sides of a case. In these contests, John F. Kennedy’s mock trial teams do an outstanding job.

Unlike many other school districts, where this experience is only offered to students in a talented and gifted program, JFK allows all students in grades six through eight to participate. This year JFK again had three teams participate. Students sacrificed their lunch and recess time, after-school hours, school breaks and weekends to prepare for the competition. Team members study the case, develop questions, memorize the traits of the characters in the case, role play as lawyers, defendants and witnesses, and learn the basics of the law.

According to parent Kathy Peterson, “Mock trial is an incredible opportunity for students to learn to actively listen, analyze, reason and adapt to a changing situation under pressure. They gain self-confidence and critical thinking skills while learning to work as part of a team. It helps prepare them to handle other challenges they will face in life and to learn about our legal system.”

As it had last year, JFK had two teams advance to the state level of competition in Des Moines in November 2008. Following a sixth-place finish in 2007, JFK had an eighth-place team and a semi-finalist team this year. JFK’s mock trial teams are coached by parent volunteers Irene Prior Loftus and Kelli Grubbs.

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