Huntington High School’s perennial county powerhouse mock trial team is searching for new members to fill out its ranks as it seeks to once again reach the pinnacle in the state.
In the first five years of the program’s existence, the Blue Devil courtroom warriors have proved formidable, including winning the 2018 Suffolk crown and finishing third in the state finals in Albany. They made a strong run at a repeat performance last spring, but fell just short.
A very strong squad is set to return. There are also spots for newcomers to fill and new those faces will be welcomed by the team’s veterans, faculty advisors and legal mentors.
An interest meeting is set for Thursday, October 3 at 2:30 in Room 201 at the high school. Students with an interest in public speaking, law and criminal procedures are encouraged to attend.
Now in its sixth year of existence, the Huntington courtroom team is expected to again challenge for top county honors. The mock trial competition is sponsored by the New York State Bar Association Foundation. The initiative seeks to enhance participant’s public speaking skills and inspire some to consider a legal career.
Participating schools have a schedule of four regular season matches before the top 16 teams enter the Suffolk tournament. Teams across New York follow a similar path along the way to determining a state champion.
The New York State Bar Assn. Foundation believes the mock trial program “teaches students ethics, civility and professionalism; furthers students’ understanding of the law, court procedures and the legal system; improves proficiency in basic life skills, such as listening, speaking, reading and reasoning; promotes better communication and cooperation among the school community, teachers and students and members of the legal profession, and; heightens appreciation for academic studies and stimulate interest in law-related careers.”
Students learn about the rule of law; rules of evidence; proper courtroom decorum; legal terminology and civic responsibility and attitude. Participation fosters respect for the law and the legal system and an ability to view an issue from differing viewpoints.
A team dinner last June celebrated the 2019 season in fine fashion. Handsome plaques were presented to the team members by Huntington’s legal advisors, Xavier Palacios and John LoTurco. (Attorney Joseph Bavaro also joined the Blue Devil mock trial team last year as one of its volunteer legal advisors.)
John Panos garnered the Most Outstanding Petitioner’s Attorney Award while Lena Annunziata captured the Most Outstanding Respondent’s Attorney Award. Erin Ye was named Rookie of the Year. Christopher Maichin was honored as the Most Outstanding Petitioner’s Witness with Emily Geller being recognized as the Most Outstanding Respondent’s Witness. Lia Shechter was presented with the Most Team Spirit Award.
All of the award recipients are returning to the team this year. Messrs. Palacios and LoTurco have committed to continuing to serve as the team’s legal advisors again next winter. Mr. Bavaro is also back in the fold.
The team will be utilizing the new mock trial courtroom in the School Heritage Museum at the high school. It serves as the home base for the Blue Devils.
Then Huntington High School senior Justin LoTurco founded Huntington’s mock trial team during the 2014/15 school year. The team’s first victory came in February 2015 when it toppled Mattituck. The Blue Devils have enjoyed remarkable success since then, culminating in this year’s county championship. Mr. LoTurco also continues to be successful in his own right. The Huntington alum is in his senior year at Duke University. He’s interned with Goldman Sachs in Manhattan last summer.
Faculty advisors Sarah Buchalter and Suzie Biagi help coordinate the team’s activities and handle important behind the scenes details.
Interested in learning more about Huntington’s mock trial program or ready to sign-on as a team member? Send an email message to either Ms. Buchalter (email@example.com) or Ms. Biagi (firstname.lastname@example.org)to start the ball rolling.