They debate, they prosecute, they defend — they are Garden Grove High School’s very own Mock Trial team. Mock Trial is an academic competition where high school students study a hypothetical court case and present their evidence and stance at a mock trial. Students participate as attorneys, bailiffs, witnesses, and clerks organized in prosecution and defense teams against other schools, and the students’ mastery of gathering and presenting their position determines the winning team. Our school’s Mock Trial team has been preparing since the beginning of the school year for their day at court under the guidance of volunteer attorneys/coaches Chris Whittaker and Brian Neach, who teach them court procedures and give them feedback on their performances.
It is still early in the season for Mock Trial, but our team has already started polishing their debate skills at scrimmages, or practice rounds, hosted at J Serra High School in San Juan Capistrano. At scrimmages, 24 schools across Orange County participate in 12 trials, Garden Grove competing against another school in one of them. Medals are awarded for individuals from each school who perform well. Isabel Ortiz (11), Selina Huynh (11), and Dominick Ly (12) received these honors in the past scrimmages. As a team, Garden Grove is improving at each practice. There are a lot of talented schools participating in the Mock Trial competition this year, but our team is set on making it past the preliminary rounds in the actual Orange County Constitutional Rights Foundation Mock Trial Competition in November and December. With every step of the way, the team gains wisdom. Scott Belair (11) reflects, “I learned that in court it’s the side that argues better that wins rather than who has better evidence. Another thing I learned is that everyone is nervous when speaking in public; it’s only a matter of who hides it best.”
Participating in Mock Trial is a great way to get out of your comfort zone as it takes guts to present your stance before others, especially a rival team you’ve just met on court day. But members who stay committed to Mock Trial and continue to practice with their team gain experience and eventually learn to control their fear of public speaking. Bella Pham (10), now in her second year of Mock Trial, shares, “I used to be a very quiet and soft spoken person, but Mock Trial really brought me out of my shell and improved my confidence as well as my debate skills.”
There’s no objection when we say you won’t find any other club on campus like Mock Trial. Not only can you get tips on debate and public speaking skills, learn how to gather and present evidence effectively, and gain an appreciation for the judicial branch of the government– you also come away from the experience with unforgettable lessons, the most important of which is discovering a part of yourself. Bella Pham (10) agrees. “The unique thing about Mock Trial is the adrenaline rush you get on the witness stand or the podium, when you let go of your current identity and adopt a new one. For a few minutes you have a new identity, an identity that’s really just a part of you that you didn’t know you had. On the stand, you rediscover yourself.”