The Saint Francis mock trial team finished their exciting run this season as the runner-up in the Santa Clara County high school mock trial competition.
Along the way to reach the finals, the Lancers knocked off the highest two seeded teams. After the semifinal round, they described waiting restlessly in the courtroom to hear the verdict on the winner.
“We were filled with nervous energy and were re-analyzing our performances,” said senior Aditi Menon, one of the co-captains. “Then they come in, and everyone was dead quiet. They said it was a very close match and that we won by a few points. We weren’t expecting it.” For Aditi and fellow senior captains Divija Hasteer, Kaanthi Pandhigunta and Melissa Toussimehr, this was the furthest the team has gone in competition during their time at Saint Francis.
The mock trial program provides an opportunity for students to learn what it’s like to prepare a fictional legal case before the court. Students play the roles of witnesses, defendants and attorneys, and the Lancer team is coached by three volunteer attorney coaches and moderated by English teacher Natalie Lai. This year’s case deals with cyberbullying and “catfishing,” in which an individual fakes an identity on social media.
Lancers attribute their success to their ability to adapt and devise new strategies for each competition. They put in long hours to be well-prepared each time, but the overall experience has been incredibly worthwhile. The team members say they have made tight bonds with each other and honed their public speaking, performing and improvising skills.
“There’s so much that happens in the moment,” said Melissa. “You have to be quick on your feet. You never know what the other team is going to bring.”