Home-schooled students from area head to national competition

Rick Wagner • Mar 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM

A group of home- schooled Tri-Cities students is headed to a national mock trial competition.

The group will represent Tennessee at the National High School Mock Trial Championship following a victory at the state competition in Nashville on March 15-16.

“The students have been coachable, diligent, hard working, and have demonstrated great teamwork. I’m happy God has seen fit to bless our efforts,” said attorney and team coach David Greene.

The Kingsport Area Christian Home Education Association (KACHEA) team placed first at the district competition in February, earning a spot at the state competition. Its first- place finish at state allows the team to compete for the national title.

Greene said the students live in an area ranging from Blountville to Kingsport to Jonesborough and Johnson City and meet in Kingsport to practice.

“Our success can largely be attributed to the experienced leadership of our attorney coach and the support of his family,” participant Melissa emple said. “He founded our team, and in just five years his expertise and commitment to excellence has been rewarded with a state title. We are grateful for his dedication to establishing such an exceptional mock trial program.”

Following the victory, the team was congratulated by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch Jr., who presided over the championship round. State Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, commended the team on its state championship from the floor of the legislature on Monday. Both wished the team success at nationals, which will be held in Indianapolis May 9-11.

Team members have earned individual awards at district and state competitions in previous years. This season, team MVP awards were earned by David Shepherd and Philip Bunn for witness and attorney roles, respectively.

Grace Gerlock was awarded the second place overall witness award at district. Temple earned first place overall attorney at the district competition, along with second place overall best advocate for the prosecution at state. In addition, Temple and Bunn have been awarded scholarships to Furman University and Patrick Henry College, respectively, as a result of their success in mock trial.

The remainder of the team was composed of Rosa Coletti, Olivia Greene, Elizabeth Saulsbury and Matt Saulsbury, as well as alternates Andrew Carver and Emma Greene. Team timekeeper was Kelsey Smith.

The two-day state tournament was organized by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, offering students an opportunity to learn about the American judicial system.

Fourteen public, private and home-school teams from across the state earned the right to compete for the state title in Nashville.

Students presented a fictional homicide case in which a vehicle repair-shop owner, who had been defrauded by the deceased, is on trial for murder. The victim, an alleged Ponzi schemer, died of injuries sustained from hitting a utility pole due to alleged brake failure after service by the defendant.

Teams prepared both the prosecution and defense sides of the case, with student-attorneys learning the intricacies of courtroom decorum and rules of evidence, and student-witnesses learning how to communicate their critical information effectively to a jury.

KACHEA defeated Montgomery Bell Academy from Nashville in the championship round. Information about the Tennessee Mock Trial program can be found at www.tba.org.

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