Impressions from High School Mock Trial Nationals
I had the privilege and pleasure to attend the NHSMTC in Indianapolis. A number of experiences left an impression on me, in no particular order.
First, I was wandering what I thought were the empty corridors of the hotel late one night. I passed three young women who were lying on the floor, apparently practicing their roles. It was nearly midnight, and these teenagers, likely far from home and without any adult nearby, were not sending text messages or playing video games; they were working. That's impressive.
Second, I met and interacted with members of the National Board throughout the event. These legal professionals, who came from all across the country, worked diligently: managing the logistics, judging rounds, addressing competition issues, cleaning courtrooms . . . whatever the situation demanded. I never heard a single complaint, despite how early or late it was (and for some tasks it was both). Even more remarkably, the focus of each person, at every turn, was insuring a quality competition experience for the students.
Third, hundreds of people volunteered to make the competition possible. The day started by arriving at the courthouse at 7:30 a.m. (except for those "running the show," who undoubtedly were there much earlier) and ended at 4:30 p.m. (except for those "running the show," who undoubtedly stayed much later). With twenty-four trials during each of four rounds, and a minimum of five volunteers in each trial (presiding judge, three scoring jurors, a courtroom liaison), scores of helpers were needed. I was especially impressed both by the large number of judges and lawyers who came from across the country to volunteer, as well as by the number of them who participated in all four rounds.
Fourth, about 500 students from across the globe participated. [Yes, several foreign countries fielded teams.] While serving as a scoring juror in four trials and also spending the better part of four days with these young people, all of whom were competing to win, I did not see one act or hear one comment I considered unprofessional. Competitors cheered their teammates and congratulated their opponents. It was uplifting.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not say how proud I was of the students on the North Carolina team, as well as their coaches and advisers and the parents who accompanied them. Their skills, their focus, their determination, and their sportsmanship reminded me of what our high school mock trial program is about.
It reminded me again that none of this endeavor would be possible without the countless people who, year after year, for more than twenty-two years, have kept our state program going. Thanks for all you do, and do not ever forget the endless ripple effect of what comes from the time you give to it!