After five years of argument, the Trumbull High School Mock Trial Team is headed for the top.
"Each year, the program has gotten better and better," said Eric August, a Trumbull High School Social Studies teacher who heads the team. He is also a lawyer. The team overcame Weston High School, which defeated THS in the past.
"[In the past], Weston took a completely different angle we didn't see coming. [This year,] we were ready for them."
August partly credited the success to the teams three veteran students, who helped the newer members.
Molly Stewart was given the award for the most outstanding attorney. The other team members are Gabby Buttress, Tom Cole, Christian DeGenova, Jackie Guillen, Kherigan Jones, Kerry Marques, Kathy Nickson, Emily Ruchalski, Pete Veikos and Joyce Woolen.
The case, whose characters' names were gender neutral, revolved around a grandparent who gave a two-year-old grandchild medicine that may have ultimately killed the child. But there were expert witnesses on the other side arguing that the child succumbed to pneumonia.
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The team argued the case before real Connecticut Supreme Court judges: Senior Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille, Justice Dennis G. Eveleigh and Justice Andrew J. McDonald. They were given five minutes for opening statements and seven minutes for direct and cross examinations.
They were graded by points but were not told the margin of victory. "In my opinion, we won pretty handily," August said.
Some acting is involved. "It's all about your argument, your craft, how well you think on your feet," he said.
From May 8 to May 12, the team will travel to Indianpolis, Ind., for the national championship where the competition will be pared down to two teams.
"It's been a record-setting year for us. We're ready to take on whatever comes across us," August said.
First Selectman Tim Herbst praised the team.
He called it an "amazing accomplishment" and said taxpayers "deserve to know how their tax dollars are producing some of the finest students in the nation."
"How fortunate we are to have a teacher as gifted and dedicated as you working in our school system. It is because of teachers like you that Trumbull High School is a shining example for secondary public education in the state of Connecticut," Herbst said in an email to August.
The coach added that the team is actively fundraising and accepting donations to help fund the trip to Nationals. Anyone interested can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.