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From the Classroom to the Courtroom

Watchung Hills students prepare for the first round of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s Vincent J. Apruzzese High School Mock Trial Competition

Students+rehearse+their+roles+at+a+practice+round+at+Watchung+Hills
Students rehearse their roles at a practice round at Watchung Hills

Students rehearse their roles at a practice round at Watchung Hills

Renee Cabato

Renee Cabato

Students rehearse their roles at a practice round at Watchung Hills

Renee Cabato, Staff Writer

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The NJSBF’s Vincent J. Apruzzese Mock Trial Competition, now in its 35th year, is an event where school teams nationwide have their mock trial teams compete in realistic courtroom scenarios. Students prepare diligently in order to succeed and advance in the rounds of the competition, with the ultimate goal of reaching the statewide finals. The Watchung Hills Mock Trial Team begins its first round of competition this Thursday, January 12th, at the Somerset County Courthouse.

New Jersey State Bar Association Logo

Members of the Mock Trial Team at Watchung Hills are selected through auditions, which are normally a two to three week process. This year’s co-presidents, Sean Coleman (junior) and Keerthi Adusumilli (junior), along with the club’s advisor, English teacher Michael Porter, assessed the skill sets of the auditioners and decided who would be best suited for a role as a witness or a lawyer. There are a total of ten roles, with 6 witnesses and 4 lawyers competing on either the side of the Plaintiff or the Defense.

Co-president Keerthi Adusumilli admits, “It’s tough to have to cut people, but I think we did a great job this year.”

Adusumilli has been a member of the team since freshman year, and is eager to compete again this season as a lawyer for the team.

There are multiple rounds to the competition. In this first round, students will play each side (Plaintiff and Defense) against other schools. Watchung Hills hopes for a victory for both sides, which would secure the team a spot in the semi-finals for the county.

The Watchung Hills Mock Trial Team returns this year not only with the goal to advance, but to avenge last year’s team for their loss in the county championships against Mount Saint Mary’s Academy.

Sean Coleman, co-president and another lawyer on the team, recounted the close competition from last year. “It will be good to face off with them again this season. It would be nice to win the county championship this year.”

The students have been committed and dedicated these past few months, even willing to put in the extra hours on a Friday afternoon to run through a practice round of the court.

Ashil Jhaveri (junior) remarks, “I’m looking forward to starting out competition and seeing the fruits of all the preparation and practice we’ve done over the past four plus months. Our expectations are high, given that last year our team made it to the county championship. We hope to achieve that result again and more, but the true goal is to simply compete the best we can.”

The school wishes the team luck as the Watchung Hills Mock Trial club begins with their first round this Thursday, with hopes that all their hard work pays off.

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From the Classroom to the Courtroom