Mock trial team teaches teamwork and leadership

  • Thursday, September 26, 2013

Photo by Heather Wright From right, former members Jamarr McCain and Erin Sweeney now work as mentors for the Merriwether Middle School Mock Trial Team.

Merriwether Middle School’s Mock Trial Team gives students the opportunity to use their powers of persuasion to build a competitive group in which they can learn and lead.

According to 13-year-old Lindsey Breedlove, she became interested through another outlet.

“It caught my attention when we got to do drama, and I’m really excited,” Breedlove said. “I love it. I want to go and meet judges and things like that. It looks really fun to be in the courtroom, and I can’t wait to learn my part.”

For Abby Powell, 12, the things she is taking away from this group now will hopefully help her with her future aspirations.

“I really want to be a lawyer or a judge when I grow up, so this might be the perfect opportunity for me,” Powell said. “It’s great. Our coaches have already taught us a lot of stuff, and it’s really fun. We’ve learned how to work together and how to be lawyers, witnesses and how to judge people.”

Sam Hudson, 12, came into the club expecting to put his expert arguing abilities to work and soon realized he would learn more than he thought.

“I thought you would just argue,” Hudson said. “I didn’t know there were rules before. I learned I’m really good at it, and the coaches are really nice. I like to be here.”

Two former members, Jamarr McCain, 16, and Erin Sweeney, 17, have returned to their roots to teach the new group and share with them the reasons they enjoyed the activity so much when they were there.

“I was on the 2010 Merriwether Mock Trial Team, and it has been my passion to come back and help as much as possible,” McCain said. “My favorite part is becoming a team, being competitive and going and competing in regional, state and national levels.”

He and Sweeney are both members of the Strom Thurmond Mock Trial Team as seniors, and for Sweeney, this has been a great way to gain experience for the career path she has chosen.

“I started in eighth grade and fell in love with it, and I’ve done it every year since,” Sweeney said. “This summer I went to a Stanford Law Trial Camp, and I plan to go to the University of Georgia and study pre-law and eventually go to law school.”

Sweeney said the camp was great for her, and she was even recognized during the camp because of her exemplary skills in the program.

“I was the winner of one of 12 awards given at the camp,” Sweeney said. “I won most effective attorney. That was the best experience probably of my life.”

Sweeney is coaching the Merriwether team as a part of her senior project with the Thurmond Statesman Institute, in which she and McCain are both involved. She said she was wary about the job at first, but she has come to truly enjoy it.

“I was worried about how they were going to treat me because I’m in high school, but they’ve been really respectful,” Sweeney said. “They’ve been so great, and they’re so excited about mock trial. They’re a great team to work with.”

Heather Wright is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. She is a North Augusta resident and earned a degree from USC Aiken in communications.

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