Hard work pays off.
Skyline High School’s Mock Trial teams delivered a record-breaking performance at the annual Mock Trial State tournament in March.
The Skyline Green team was awarded second place, which is the highest ranking that a public school has ever achieved at the state competition. The Silver team placed 12th at the same tournament, which took place March 10 to 13.
In Mock Trial, students simulate real-world legal proceedings. After receiving a fictional case in October consisting of witness statements, exhibits, and pretrial motions, teams have four months to prepare for trial. At the competition, team members are assigned to act as either the plaintiff or defense, and take on the roles of attorneys, witnesses, and even bailiffs. Real judges preside over trials and teams are rated by a panel of volunteering legal professionals.
Top ranking teams in each district proceed to the state competition. The state champion, Seattle Preparatory School, will advance to the national competition in August.
Individual Skyline students — Aditi Srinivasan, Audrey Cho, Karan Malhotra, Lucianna Colindres, Olivia Lapinsky, Shivani Modi, and Shreya Karnik — were nominated for “Best Attorney” at the state competition. In addition, Emily Si, Landen Scott, Lucianna Colindres, Raghav Pradhan, Sanya Kapoor, and Yanda Bao were nominated for “Best Witness.”
While the team is rejoicing in their great achievement, one can hardly believe that they placed only 12th in the district competition last year. With no private or professional mentors, the team initially struggled to adapt to the shift from in-person to online competition when the pandemic arrived.
“It was just us, you know, doing research on our own by watching YouTube videos, and then bringing that to club meetings and teaching our members,” said Aditi Srinivasan, senior vice president of the club and Green team co-captain.
Reflecting on this competition season, the team believes it is the cooperation and great efforts put in by all club members and team leaders that made the accomplishment possible.
Although the competition was still virtual this year, the team shifted back to in-person training, meeting every Tuesday and Thursday after school for about an hour and occasionally during weekends. Learning from past experience, the team adjusted their meeting schedules and structure of preparation.
“This year, obviously being in-person, we could have that one-on-one feedback with people about their presentation,” said Srinivasan. “We could suggest certain edits live, so members could actually implement those and get significantly better before the competition.”
Compared to last year, the team added more training to help members get familiar with their roles. They also practiced using key techniques for presenting persuasive arguments and showcasing witness characteristics.
“We have a senior member listen to a members’ content for a witness to make sure that they’re in the character and that they have voice inflection to make them sound interesting,” said senior Anusha Dani, who served as senior director of competition.
During the summer of 2021, the team competed virtually in Empire, an international high school Mock Trial competition. That experience prepared them for the subsequent Mock Trial season.
Senior Olivia Lapinsky served as Skyline Mock Trial’s president and Green team co-captain this season.
“For Empire, we decided to integrate our varsity and junior varsity members,” said Lapinsky. “This was really instrumental in helping less experienced members learn from more experienced members by working side-by-side with them.”
For the team members, Mock Trial is not just a club, but also a supportive and inspirational community that has instilled resilience and confidence. The experience has inspired some members, like Dani, to pursue a career in law.
“I’ve never felt that kind of thrill and that kind of hunger as I do at trial,” said Dani.
Overall, this season has been especially rewarding and memorable for the participants.
“It’s like watching like all my dreams come true,” said junior Lucianna Colindres, a team member. “I truly cannot be more proud of myself and my team and all the progress that we’ve made.”