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Mock trial team takes first in regional, second in state

Area homeschool students had prepared for event since January

Published: Friday, May 24, 2013 5:00 a.m. CST
(Photo submitted)
Minooka Classical Conversation’s Challenge B Mock Trial Team includes, from left to right, Tess Cepela, Isabel Brady, Alyssa Bernal, Hannah Truhlar, Amy Allen, Peter Pattara and Isabella Warmack.

MINOOKA — Minooka Classical Conversations won first place at the Sycamore Regional Mock Trial Competition on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, advancing them to the Illinois State Competition, where they finished second on Wednesday, May 8. Both levels of competition took place in the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore, Ill.

Classical Conversations is a nationwide program for home-schooling K-12. Mock Trial is a key event in the curriculum for the Challenge B program.

This Challenge B class included 13- to 15-year-old students who begin preparing for competition in January.

For their excellent level of preparation, the Minooka CC team credits the advice and encouragement of area attorneys, Brett Geiger and Ragan Freitag, State’s Attorney Jason Helland and retired Judge Rodney Lechwar, each of whom donated their time and expertise.

Geiger expressed surprise “to see what is expected, regarding the rules of evidence; it is college-level expectations, and the kids meet those expectations.”

The course materials include the same documents that real lawyers would have access to for preparing the defense or prosecution of the case. Parents have been impressed with the fact that the students were given only the “raw material” and have to construct their own cases and arguments based on those materials.

Two years ago, Kyle Fisk of rural Seneca read an article in the Morris Daily Herald about Minooka CC’s first mock trial competition, which was held at the Grundy County Courthouse with Judge Marsaglia presiding. He was greatly influenced by the mock trial opportunity in choosing CC as the program through which they homeschool through high school.

“Our son, Kellon, participated in Mock Trial last year, and it was truly amazing,” Fisk said. “Students use newly acquired skills in debate and logic, also part of the CC curriculum, to experience the preparation it takes to bring someone to trial. They don’t just learn about the judicial process; they experience it first-hand.”

“This is the second time I’ve had the privilege of presiding over the CC Mock Trial competitions,” Judge Marsaglia said at the end of last year’s competition. “It is obvious the kids truly understood what they were trying to accomplish. They were not just acting out scripted parts.

"Classical Conversations communities internationally are now enrolling students for the 2013-14 program year. Classical Conversation communities meet weekly. For a list of information meeting schedules, visit the website or e-mail Deb at ccthreerivers@gmail.com or Kyle at lkfisk6@gmail.com. For more information and videos visit www.classicalconversations.com.

Classical Conversations also offers student camps in geography, trigonometry, logic and public speaking and free 3-Day Parent Practicums in the summer, open to anyone interested. Foci this year include Math and homeschooling through high school.

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