Mt. Vernon Register-News

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March 8, 2014

MVTHS mock trial team preps for state

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Julie Hayes, MVTHS business instructor and mock trial coach, said the case involves a fictional man, George Johnson, who heard Orson Welles’ radio broadcast and believed an alien invasion was actually taking place.

Johnson then went into his underground cellar for six weeks, during which time he lost his job and his farm went under. After emerging from the cellar, Johnson decided to sue CBS.

Hayes said the MVTHS mock trial team has been working on the case since January to prepare for the state tournament. The snow days this winter have presented a challenge, she said, but the team has really pulled together.

“We work real hard on just taking the case, tearing it apart, finding a theme,” Hayes said. “(The students) have to do it all. We can coach them, but they have to do their own questions and their opening statements, so it’s just those critical thinking skills, public speaking skills.”

Sheila Baldridge, the coach of Salem High School’s team, said the mock trial program involves much more than just a memorization of facts.

“It’s processing and being able to handle things on the spur of the moment,” Baldridge said. “It’s a great program for kids.”

Salem team member Connor Stephenson, a senior, said he greatly enjoys how participating in the program forces him to “think very quickly.”

“It definitely takes the art of debate to a new level with adding the courtroom aspect into it,” Stephenson said.

The state tournament takes place today and Sunday and the winning teams will move on to a national competition.

The mock trial team is available at MVTHS as an extra-curricular program. Hayes said she hopes the program will continue to grow.

“We’re just starting, getting our feet wet again, and we’ll take off from there,” Hayes said. “Hopefully, it’ll grow every year.”

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