Three local high school mock trial teams have won their county titles and will go on to regional competition this month in the Vincent J. Apruzzese Mock Trial Competition, sponsored in cooperation with the New Jersey State Bar Foundation.
Teams from Middle Township High School in Cape May County, Mainland Regional High School in Atlantic County and Millville High School in Cumberland County have been perennial powerhouses in mock trial circles. This year they are arguing a case about a fatal one-car accident in which the passenger was killed. Charges against the driver include vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident, driving with a suspended license and driving while intoxicated.
Students play all of the roles and must be prepared to both prosecute and defend the case. About 230 teams statewide are participating this year.
Mainland Regional beat Holy Spirit High School in the Atlantic County finals Monday at the courthouse in Atlantic City. Mainland’s team won the state title in 2009.
This year’s Mainland team is captained by Flannery Rollins, Roman Papademetriou and Tyler Newman, and also includes Erin Kiernan, Lauren Ziereis, Patrick Law, Grant Hinman, Bhavani Singh, Ezza Ahmed, Amanda Etemad, Maia Scheffler, Noah Nardone, Lucas Gideon, Patrick McCarthy and Rachel Kelley. Chris Fernandez is the teacher coach and Despina Hess is the team’s lawyer coach.
Other Atlantic County High Schools competing were Absegami, Atlantic County Institute of Technology, Cedar Creek, Egg Harbor Township, Hammonton, Oakcrest and St. Joseph.
Middle Township teams won state championships in 2007 and 2011. This year’s team members are Dylan Rhile, Jake Canter, Morgon Goranson, Victoria Shappell, Dominique McNeil, Rose Frye, Robert Cline, Lauren Anderson, Gabby Giuliano, Nick Stella, Dillon Keller, Casie Salvadore, Kassandra Ramos, Amber D'Abundo, Tim Gear and Austin Hentges. Teacher coaches are Martina Trapani and Joseph Towns, and the lawyer coach is Fred Mick.
Four high schools competed in Cape May County: Cape May County Technical, Wildwood Catholic, Lower Cape May Regional and Middle Township.
Millville’s team beat teams from Cumberland Regional and Bridgeton to take the county title.
Team members are Frank Uzzolina, Rebekah Parish, Ryan Pletcher, Sara Penka, Laura Schwegel, Nick Makos, Russell Coxe, Scott Craner, Caroline Wood, Ariyanna Santiago, Josh Sheppard, Deja Berrios, Kyle Permuy, Julian Sacharnoski, Connor Ludwig, Nathan Morroni and Kirsten Hoffman. They are coached by Donna Cedermark and Jason Smith,with attorneys Joseph Chiarello and Matt Robinson.
The Ocean County finals, scheduled for Monday, were delayed by snow.
Barring weather delays, the regional playoffs are scheduled for Feb. 26, followed by semifinals March 19 and finals March 24 at the N.J. Law Center in New Brunswick. The state winner goes on to the national competition.
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