A team of 10 Knoxville 8th graders are headed to the Middle School State Mock Trial competition.

On October 31, the 7th and 8th grade mock trial teams competed at the Regional Mock Trial competition at Marshalltown Community College. The 8th grade team ended the day with a second place finish, qualifying for the state competition.

The team, composed of Brittany Bacron, Ciara Heffron, Tyce Huyck, Jay Kellar, Laney Minard, Ella Rankin, Faith Roozeboom, Treven Stanley, Evan Smith and Charlye Willis, will compete against 34 teams in Des Moines on Nov. 19-21.

During the regional competition, both the 7th and 8th grade team competed in two rounds of competition. Prior to the competition, they had prepared opening statements and arguments for prosecution and defense.

Each team was already familiar with the case when they entered the courtroom for competition. However, the judge had no prior knowledge on the case, so it was up to the competing teams to help the judge understand the trial.

Members from each team served as witnesses and attorneys during the trial, giving students the opportunity to do some acting. Charlye Willis, who portrayed the defendant, even cried while speaking as her character during the competition.

Even though teams were able to prepare for certain aspects of the trial before competition, the 8th grade team says the most challenging part are the things you cannot script. Without any idea of what the opposing team will say or do during the trial, the students are required to think quickly on their feet.

“It’s really easy to do the stuff that you can script,” said team member Tyce Huyck. “But when something is thrown that throws you off a little bit, like when someone objects to you, that’s when you really see whether you’re good at it or not.”

The team is still practicing their case to prepare for the state competition. This weekend, they are participating in a scrimmage against Eddyville’s middle school team to gain more experience in the courtroom.

Members of the team say they have learned a lot from participating in mock trial. Not only has it improved their public speaking skills, but it has also given them a better understanding of courtroom proceedings and certain aspects of the law.

Although this was the second year of competition for the 8th grade team, some of them still were nervous when it was time to enter the courtroom. Nine of the ten members of the team participated in mock trial the previous year.

The students are looking forward to competing at the state contest. They are hoping to finish within the top ten teams at the competition.

The 7th grade mock trial team included Christian Braida, Ethan Cahill, Gabe Clark, Madi Day-Suhr, Hanna Dunkin, Diego Garcia, Elliott King, Janie Maadam, Aubri Murphy, Rylan Robinson, Ezra Schmidt and Anderson Staton.

Several students from both teams were recognized for outstanding performances at the regional competition. Earning Honorable Mention as attorneys were Ciara Heffron, Charlye Willis, Elliott King and Hannah Dunkin, as well as Ella Rankin for witness.

Earning Outstanding Attorney was Rylan Robinson. Charlye Willis, Faith Roozeboom, Christian Braida and Janie Maadam were named as Outstanding Witness.

Treven Stanley earned both Outstanding Attorney & Outstanding Witness, which is a rare accomplishment.

Emma Skahill can be reached at eskahill@journalexpress.net or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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