They are only in fifth grade, but these Huntington School District SEARCH program participants moved around the courtroom like seasoned professionals.
The youngsters recently participated in the Western Suffolk BOCES mock trial competition at the Suffolk Community College’s Selden campus. “Our teams did not win, but we learned so much,” said first year SEARCH teacher Jessica Risalvato.
Fifth grader Anshi Paul said the mock trial initiative provided a “great experience to work as a team, learn the topic and stand in front of others and speak.” Students prepared all of their own questions and answers, as well as opening and closing statements.
“They put so much effort into this trial, including after school practice and it showed in their presentations,” Ms. Risalvato said. “For first time competitors, we did an amazing job! I couldn’t stop smiling as I watched these fifth graders transform into professional lawyers and witnesses.”
The fifth grade SEARCH students who participated in the mock trial program included:
The following 5th grade SEARCH students participated:
Attorneys: Alyssa Evans, Nicholas Plachta, Ronnie Carrillo
Witnesses: Griffin Kanzer, Tess Markotsis, Anne Tyrrell
Alternate/Bailiff: William Fallon
Attorneys: Anshi Paul, Devon St. John, Isaac Joseph
Witnesses: Natalie Parrott, Ryan Toomey, Kathryn Schmidt
Alternate/Bailiff: Harrison Fox
Mr. Kanzer’s experience was typical of those of his classmates. He said he had an “amazing time” and that while he was nervous when he arrived at SCC, once the program got underway he loved it. His ambivalence about the law was transformed to the point that he is now thinking about participating with the high school’s mock trial team down the road.
Participating districts participating in the Western Suffolk BOCES initiative received a full trial with instructions for preparing students. The case was adapted from trials prepared by the New York State Bar Association for its annual high school competition. Plaintiff and defense teams consisted of three lawyers and three witnesses along with alternates. Teachers were offered a pair of training sessions.