Currently, the Maine Mock Trial Competition is in jeopardy.

The Maine State High School Mock Trial Competition features about 25 schools from around the state. In September, teams are given an imaginary case to try against one another in real courtrooms with experienced judges.

The Maine State Bar Association had previously funded the program, but due to budget cuts, they will be unable to fund it next year. This threatens the future of the competition.

One of the most educationally beneficial extracurricular activities, the program has been highly successful at schools such as Lewiston High School, Cape Elizabeth, Hampden Academy and Sanford. Each year the teams spend countless hours working with their teacher-coach and several lawyer coaches who volunteer their time.

Students were shocked when news came that the competition may not continue next year. Many students said that this activity was the most important one of their high school years.

Matt Beauparlant, a senior at Lewiston High School said, “When I first participated as a sophomore, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. After learning the legal process, I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer or judge.”

Other students say that mock trial was important to them because it provided a unique challenge.

Nimal Eames-Scott, also a senior at Lewiston High School said, “Mock trial challenged me more than any other class, perhaps because I wasn’t striving to meet some curriculum. I was working to improve myself and to be that much better than the other team.”

Perhaps the most important result from the mock trial competition is the skills students pick up while participating.

David Carvalho, a junior at LHS said he learned “courtroom decorum, how to be persuasive and to think on your feet.”

LHS Senior Carly Yeung said she gained more confidence in herself and in her public speaking skills, and that “mock trial allows talented students to be recognized for their intellectual strengths.”

These are abilities that will stay with students for their entire lives.

Statistics show that students who participate in public speaking activities, like the mock trial, have a 38 percent greater chance of being accepted to their first choice college. With captains, the statistic jumps to 60 percent. Students who participate in this program get into prestigious schools. For instance, Eames-Scott has been accepted to Yale University next year. Most importantly, the program produces a generation of eloquent speakers, quick thinkers and team players.

Maine’s Mock Trial program needs help to continue to provide students with this opportunity to learn about the legal system from an insider’s perspective.

The program costs between $15,000 and $20,000 per year to operate, which is not something that Maine’s public schools can budget, so the program will be forced to close in May. If the program were to end, it would be a tremendous loss for Lewiston High School’s academic program.

Julie Finn is the Lewiston Mock Trial coordinator ,[email protected] Michelle Crowley is the program’s teacher-coach, [email protected]

The current members of the mock trial team who contributed to this piece are Matt Beauparlant, Conroy LeBlond, Maame Bonsu, Hannah Fazio, Emily Dixon, Brady Blouin, Nimal Eames-Scott, David Carvalho, Carly Yeung, Jake Dumas, Anna Smedley, Veronica Beaudoin, Ryan Dubois, Ian Roy and Yasmin Garaad.

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