A surge of interest in the Huntington High School mock trial program resulted in the largest influx of new team members ever this past year. The newcomers joined with returning veterans to produce one of the best courtroom squads in Suffolk.
The Blue Devils once again qualified for the post-season tournament where they turned in a spectacular performance against Northport. Huntington thought it had won the courtroom battle, but the judge ruled otherwise. Northport went on to win the county championship.
Huntington mock trial team staff members Suzi Biagi, Sarah Buchalter, Xavier Palacious and John LoTurco at Eatalia
While the Blue Devils had no choice but to accept the verdict, it was still hard for the team and its faculty and legal advisors after putting in months of work to master this year’s case and the nuances of successful courtroom techniques and strategies.
With the benefit of time, Huntington was finally able to put the close loss aside. The team recently came together at Eatalia in the village for a celebratory dinner. After all, there was plenty to be proud of and still more to be excited about since most the Blue Devil roster is currently comprised of underclassmen and will be returning in 2020.
Dozens of team members and their parents turned out for the dinner at Eatalia, feasting on a sumptuous buffet in a private dining room. Volunteer legal advisors Xavier Palacios and John H. LoTurco, who spent more than 100 hours on this year’s team, presided over the affair. The pair expressed their admiration and respect for each of the students, speaking about each of the teenager’s individually and what they have meant to the Blue Devils.
Each of the team members was called up to receive a plaque that commemorated the season. The key participants were presented with a series of special awards for their exceptional performances and commitment to the program.
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.
Messrs. LoTurco and Palacios thanked Huntington High School teachers Sarah Buchalter and Suzi Biagi for everything they do as the team’s faculty advisors to make the Blue Devil program a smooth running machine. Appreciation was also extended to attorney Joseph Bavaro, who joined the Blue Devil mock trial team this year as one of its volunteer legal advisors.
“This mock trial season was a learning experience,” Ms. Annunziata said. “Although we didn’t have the outcome we expected, our very young team had the opportunity to grow into seasoned mock trial participants. We worked extremely hard to learn the material and execute under tremendous pressure. We had a great season and I cannot wait for next year.”
Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky joined the recent celebration, reinforcing the district’s support for the program, which has rapidly become one of the finest in the state.
As the Blue Devils departed Eatalia and started to head home, more than a few commented that they can’t wait for next year when they are expected to vie for county and state titles.