Home-schoolers Excel

in Mock Trials



THE FIRST NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL MOCK TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1984 ATTRACTED TEAMS FROM FIVE STATES. LAST YEAR’S COMPETITION INCLUDED THE TOP TEAMS FROM 42 STATES AND THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS.


IN 2002, FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE NATIONAL TITLE WAS CAPTURED BY HOME-SCHOOLERS


Tennessee’s Family Christian Academy (FCA) proved it was no fluke by repeating as champions last year, the first team ever to win two consecutive titles.


This year’s competition in Orlando, Florida, which is pending as of this writing, will also include a formidable home school contingent.


On April 5-6 , 2004, in Utah, for instance, 38 senior high teams vied for the state title and an opportunity to take part in the nationals. They argued the fictional case People v. Martin, involving the alleged murder of a high school girl who planned to turn in two classmates for cheating on an exam. Preliminaries were played out in actual courtrooms throughout the state, with teams assigned on the spot to argue either prosecution/plaintiff or defense/defendant sides of the case.


Volunteer attorneys and community representatives served as judges.


For the first time, a home-school team collared the state crown, narrowly defeating the two-time defending champion . The Patriots Club, as the team is known, hails from the Murray-Holladay area of suburban Salt Lake City, and is comprised of students from about a dozen families belonging to a home-school co-op that shares curriculum and teachers. They are Marion Strobell, 15; Maren Despain, 16; Jessica Sham, 15; Eli Redd , 17; Jared Thomas, 15; Reed Gabrielsen, 15; Tyler Bailey , 17; and Tyler’s cousin Brittany Bailey , 15, and her twin brothers Ben and Brad, 14.


Club coach Michelle Bailey, mother of Brittany, Ben and Brad, told Salt Lake television station KSL, “We enjoy doing the home school together. The kids have chosen to d o this.” According to Brittany, home schooling allows her to “take charge of my own education.”


Team member Jessica Sham told the April 14 Deseret Morning News that the mock trial competition “gives us a chance to show the world we [home-schoolersl can do it. We’re not stupid or totally socially backward. We can go against other schools and hold our own.


According to the Morning News, during preparation for the state finals “the teams met as often as four times a week, receiving help from Mrs. Bailey, fellow home-school parent Ann Webb, and local attorney George Harris.” Some students said they occasionally “spent up to 10 hours in a single sitting, poring over case details and polishing questions.” Attorney Harris seemed especially impressed by the team’s tenacity, telling the Morning News that “when they experience some sort of setback they don’t give up, they keep on trying.”


After securing the state title, the club faced the financial hurdle of raising around $7,500 to finance the trip to Orlando. Members promptly arranged a bake sale, car wash, and the sale of cookie dough and pizza cards to help raise the needed cash.


Reflecting on the experience, Jessica Sham told KSL, “l really have learned self-esteem, knowing that I can do something. And if we really put our minds to something we can change the way that people think of home schoolers.

-------ROBERT W. LEE

 SOURCE:

The NEW AMERICAN - Magazine

May 31, 2004 (pg. 33)



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