CAPE ELIZABETH — The high school mock trial team defeated eight-time winner Hampden Academy in the state championship on Dec. 9 to earn a chance to compete in the national competition in May.
Mary Page, a high school social studies teacher and mock trial coach, said the win was exciting because the program was nearly cut from the school budget.
“With encouragement and support of high school students,” Page told a recent School Board meeting, “the School Board was convinced to keep it in the budget.”
Page has been involved in the program since 2003. She helps coach the team with town resident and attorney Richard O’Meara, who has helped the students since 2004. High school Principal Jeff Shedd also helps the students prepare for the competition.
Page said the Cape team last won the state championship in 2002.
The competition took place at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland with Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court presiding over the hearings. This year’s case was centered around a lobstering feud.
“The kids improved by leaps and bounds,” Page said. “The student attorneys have the ability to give opening statements and closing arguments without notes and the student witnesses had such an understanding of the case, they were able to bring their characters to life.”
According to the Maine Bar Association, mock trial is part of a law-focused program designed to provide students with an operational understanding of the law, legal issues, and the judicial process. Students develop useful questioning, critical thinking, and oral skills, and ultimately gain an understanding of the area of law in question.
Page said students from all four grades participate in mock trial.
“This win is special because three freshman were involved in performance roles,” she said. “(Mock trial) teaches the students how to think on their feet, speak in public and it gives them confidence.”
There were three captains this year, Page said, seniors Ben Berman, Olivia Babine and Emily Taintor.
The group will now compete in the national mock trial competition in Phoenix, May 5-7.
The case for the nationals will not be released until April. When it is, the team will rehearse daily, Page said.
“This win was an upstanding moment for the students,” Page said.
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cape Elizabeth Mock Trial state champions
Cape Elizabeth High School mock trial team members are Gabe McGinn, Jack Tierney, Emily Muscat, Josie Barth, Dorothy Janick, Michaela Forde, Claire Muscat, Rachel Matusko, Max Aronson, Brian Taintor, Gavin Cottrell, Seth Dobieski, Kevin Hare, Travis Delano, Will McCarthy, Chelsey Whynot, Katie Page, Laura MacKay, Will Britton, Seth Queeney, Harper Chalat, Lane Parrish and senior captains Liv Babine, Ben Berman and Emily Taintor.