After winning the Suffolk championship in only its fourth year of existence, where does the Huntington High School mock trial team go from here? The goals remain the same: capture county and state titles.
This year’s team is continuing to prepare for the upcoming competitive season. In a display of just how much interest the mock trial program has stirred up at the high school, 36 students have signed on for this year’s squad.
Huntington received its 2019 schedule last week. The Blue Devils will open the season on February 6 at Kings Park. Home matches are set for February 13 against East Islip and on February 27 against Mattituck. The final regular season contest will be litigated on March 6 at Northport. Playoff rounds will follow culminating in county and state finals.
The program’s executive board consists of co-Chairmen John Panos and Lia Shechter, President Riley Tucker and Vice Presidents Lena Annunziata and Joe Mead.
Faculty advisors Sarah Buchalter and Suzie Biagi help coordinate the team’s activities and handle behind the scenes details.
Legal advisors Xavier Palacios and John LoTurco have been working with team members to help them master this year’s statewide case and improve their courtroom presence as prosecuting and defense attorneys and witnesses. Huntington alum and practicing attorney Jack Piana is also expected to assist with the team’s preparations.
“The team has tons of potential this year,” Ms. Annunziata said. “All of our members, especially the new ones are invested and enthusiastic to learn and prepare for our competitions. The hard work is already under way in order for us to win the state title. I personally could not be more excited.”
The team has a sleek new courtroom to call home. Mr. Palacios donated $40,000 to Huntington UFSD to enlarge the elevated portion of the School Heritage Museum and purchase courtroom furniture, includes a judge’s bench, tables for prosecutors and defense attorneys, witness boxes and a podium and chairs, among other items.
The School Heritage Museum has cushioned seating for more than 100 spectators. It will offer the Blue Devils arguably the best courtroom setting on Long Island. The team has been meeting in the facility.
“The mock trial team is doing amazing so far,” Mr. Panos said. “We have a great balance of attorneys and witnesses are ready to win another championship. I’m so excited to begin competing this February. Everyone's going to do amazing.”
Then Huntington High School senior Justin LoTurco founded Huntington’s mock trial team during the 2014/15 school year. The team’s first victory came in February 2015 when it toppled Mattituck. The Blue Devils have enjoyed an exceptional degree of success since then, culminating in last season’s county championship.
Mr. LoTurco also continues to be successful in his own right. The Huntington alum is in his senior year at Duke University. He interned with Goldman Sachs in Manhattan last summer.
Although it is certainly time consuming, the current year’s team is happy to be in the midst of its preparations the coming competitive campaign. “We’ve been working very hard to prepare for the upcoming season and have a strong team to work with,” Ms. Shechter said. “We have a lot of new faces this year and can’t wait to see them ace it in competition. The team is ready to win first in the state this year!”