Foundation Allocates Funds to Support Willow Glen High School Mock Trial Team as it Advances to State Finals
At its March meeting, the Foundation voted to join the Performing Arts Boosters and the Parent Club in allocating $780 each to support Willow Glen High School’s Mock Trial Team. Days earlier, the team won the Santa Clara County Mock Trial Competition – and the honor of representing the county in the State Finals to be held in Riverside (see below) – requiring funds to cover hotel and transportation expenses. Foundation members felt that the students’ hard work and success should be supported, especially given the clear alignment with the Foundation’s goal of supporting 21st century learning – including collaboration, critical thinking, and public speaking. Although the Foundation does not typically fund club activities, this allocation represents a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on the school and on a level of accomplishment that is inspiring to the entire community.
Willow Glen High School Wins Santa Clara County Mock Trial Tournament
San José, CA (March 1, 2013)—Last night the Willow Glen High School Mock Trial Team defeated the team from Monta Vista High School to win the Santa Clara County High School Mock Trial Tournament. The win marks Willow Glen’s first mock trial county championship and advances them to the state championship in Riverside on March 22 – 24.
Willow Glen was undefeated entering the final round of the tournament, having defeated Santa Clara, Pioneer, Saratoga, Mountain View, Sobrato and Los Gatos. In the final round, Willow Glen argued their case as the prosecution, winning narrowly by a score of 406 to 397. Anni Guptill, a member of the prosecution team said after the team’s victory, “It was such an honor to take part in the mock trial competition, our team worked extremely hard and was exceptionally coached. We are all so very excited to have won and look forward to representing Willow Glen High School and Santa Clara County in the state championship.” This was the second year in a row that Willow Glen was in the final.
Of the 15 current team members, 12 of them are expected to return next year to defend their title.
The team is coached by Assistant United States Attorney James A. Scharf, who said after the team’s victory, “This couldn’t have happened to a nicer group of kids. The team chemistry was off the charts. More than teammates, they were friends and partners. With virtually the entire team returning next year, the sky’s the limit for what this talented, hardworking and utterly charming group of students can accomplish. It was a privilege and an honor to have helped them reach their potential to be the best team in Santa Clara County.” Willow Glen’s victory marks the second time that Scharf has led a team to the championship, having first done so with Leland High School in 2000. In addition to being the team’s coach, Scharf is also the parent of three children who have participated in the tournament as members of the Willow Glen team—two of whom competed this year.
A mock trial team is comprised of a prosecution team and a defense team. Each separate team consists of 1 pre-trial attorney, 3 trial attorneys, 4 witnesses and 1 court staffer. Thus, in total, up to 18 students can participate. The program runs from September through February and culminates with a county-wide tournament involving more than twenty local public and private schools at the downtown superior court in February. Actual judges preside and real lawyers serve as scoring jurors. The winner of each county tournament competes at a state tournament. Sponsored by the Santa Clara County Superior Court, Santa Clara County Bar Association and the County Office of Education, the mock trial program is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about our legal system while honing their public speaking skills.
In this year’s case, the child of the Mayor of a fictional California city is charged with felony hit-and-run. The prosecution contends that the defendant ran a stop sign due to texting while driving, struck and permanently injured a bicyclist and then fled the scene. The defense contends that another occupant in the vehicle was actually driving when the accident occurred and that, in any event, neither realized they had struck a bicyclist. The pre-trial issue is whether defendant’s apology to the investigating officer should be excluded because the officer failed to administer Miranda warnings.