By Zoe Daniel
Have your heard of Byram’s phenomenal Mock Trial team? While not the most well known club, they have accomplished great success and are worthy of praise!
The Byram Hills Mock Trial Club is part of the larger Mock Trial organization. Mock Trial is a nationwide competition in which schools debate against one another over the same case. Students act as lawyers and witnesses and emulate the same format as a real court case. This year, the case centered around a malicious prosecution dispute, with no clear distinction as to whether or not the plaintiff or defense should emerge victorious – an exciting challenge for the students. In other words, the plaintiff, a young man, was suing the defense, a city police department, for monetary damages due to him being innocent on the charges brought against him. Each week the teams compete against one another, and the loser is immediately eliminated – setting the bar extremely high. Due to the risk of sudden elimination, Byram’s team spent months preparing, rehearsing, and strategizing over painstaking details of the case. They even rehearsed with Mr. Lopez in order to improve their acting abilities and subsequent believability while on the stand! Until a few weeks ago with a painful defeat to Horace Greeley, BHHS was undefeated going 4-0 against various schools all over Westchester.
No matter the outcome of the season, lead lawyer Jonah Schwam had an amazing experience: “Despite an unfortunate and abrupt end to this Mock Trial season, we achieved a much greater degree of success than I think anyone could have anticipated. Going into the season, we were an extremely inexperienced team; however, every member of the team has improved their skills substantially over the past few months.” With such a quickly improving team that has advanced further than previous BHHS Mock Trial teams, much can be expected next year. No matter the outcome, Jonah “had a fantastic experience lawyering for both the defense and plaintiff and particularly enjoyed doing the defense’s closing statement.” Jonah says, “I am looking forward to another even better season next year.” Despite the inexperience and seemingly weak bond between the team members, they were able to display their abilities and skills while defeating four highly ranked schools – a feat that could not have been anticipated.
Alan Chang, another very involved team member shared his description of how the club is like a family of persistent people; “Mock Trial has brought about a shared enthusiasm among an entire group of friends and teachers. It is truly a family, meeting on Sundays for hours on end. We would talk to Mrs. Pellegrino and Mr. Gilbert about their lives, our numerous struggles as high school students, and all our busy schedules while munching on Amore pizza.” The journey towards finals was one that was intellectually and emotionally challenging, but for the members, the experience was one they enjoyed. “Our persistent teamwork to win gave us the drive to learn about Mock Trial and achieve an astounding degree of professionalism.” Everyone better watch out next year! Byram is coming in hot!” You heard it here first! Byram is going to be the team to beat next year, with many members stepping up to further improve the strategies and coordination of the team.
Aside from the great work of the very committed members, the team’s success would be nothing if not for the club advisors, Mrs. Pellegrino and Mr. Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert had a fantastic time supervising the team and was a crucial addition. On speaking about his experience, he exclaimed, “This year’s mock trial team had a core group of students who were committed to learning and winning. The team continuously improved and worked as hard or harder than any of the teams I have coached over almost 30 years.” The team even worked with outside attorneys and coaches in order to further progress and solidify their knowledge. As Gilbert puts it, “You can say that it takes village to put together a good mock trial team.” So much hard work, energy, and time has gone into Mock Trial, and although their loss was difficult to overcome, Byram bounces back and will emerge strong and victorious next year!
Don’t forget to keep up with the Byram Hills Mock Trial team and their future successes next year. New members are always welcome, so don’t hesitate to join!