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Central High School of Blair County Wins State Mock Trial Championship

Click here for more photos from the finals.

HARRISBURG (March 28, 2009) - Central High School of Blair County today won the 25th Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championship.

Central High School will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals, May 6-10, in Atlanta, Ga.

The Central High School Mock Trial Team is composed of Angela Banks, Drake Dodson, Eli Hershberger, Mara Hershberger, Katelyn Hoover, Abby Kreider, Blake Steele and Leah Stiles. The teacher coach is Brad Heuston. Tripp (Warren) Crilly and Julie Mills are the lawyer coaches.

Central High School played plaintiff and Overbrook High School of Philadelphia played defense in the final round of competition today. Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, presided.

Overbrook High School also has a proud history in the state competition. Overbrook High School Mock Trial Teams won the state championship last year and also in 1997 and 2004.

"Congratulations to the Central High School students for demonstrating outstanding teamwork and the excellent communication and analytical skills needed to win this year's championship," said Ryan Blazure of Kingston, chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and co-chair of the Statewide Mock Trial Executive Committee. "We also commend the hundreds of other students across the state who invested their talents and energies in this year's competition and the many teachers and lawyers who generously gave their time and expertise to coaching the students."

Blazure's co-chair of the Mock Trial Executive Committee was Jennifer J. Walsh of Scranton. This year's mock trial case, which centered on an employer's potential liability for the negligent actions of an employee, was written by Jonathan A. Grode, a 2008 graduate of the Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law. Jane E. Meyer, a prior chairperson of the PBA/YLD Mock Trial Committee and current member of the National High School Mock Trial Championship Board of Directors, edited the final version of the problem in collaboration with Grode.

This year, 316 teams from 267 high schools competed in the district and regional levels of Pennsylvania's mock trial competition - one of the largest in the nation. Following the local competitions, 12 high school teams advanced to the state mock trial championships. All 12 teams competed in two quarterfinal rounds on Friday, March 27.

Through the competition, eight-member student teams are given the opportunity to argue both sides of the case in an actual courtroom before a judge. The students, who play the roles of lawyers, witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants, are assisted by teacher coaches and attorney advisors in preparing for competition. Volunteer lawyers and community leaders serve as jurors in the trials. The juries determine the winners in each trial based on the teams' abilities to prepare their cases, present arguments and follow court rules.

Earlier today during the semifinal rounds, Central High School won against Woodland Hills High School of Allegheny County and Overbrook High School won against Scranton Preparatory School of Lackawanna County.

The Overbook High School Mock Trial Team is composed of Larria Bolding, Jessica Drake, Ayrton Hamilton, Emem Ikpe, Remeeka Manning, Antwann Postell, Anthony Thomas and Candace Warren. The teacher coach is Philip Beauchemin. Josie Hyman and Lajuan Tucker are the lawyer coaches.

The Scranton Preparatory School Mock Trial Team is composed of Jennifer Boland, Joseph Burke, Elisabeth Costanzo, Morgan Duffy, Julia Fick, Colin Holmes, Stephen Murphy and Amber Rybnick. The teacher coaches are Mary Grace Phillips and Henry Shea. Magistrate Judge Malachy Mannion, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and John O'Brien are the lawyer coaches. Scranton Preparatory School won the Statewide Mock Trial Championship title in 1991.

The Woodland Hills High School Mock Trial Team is composed of Cassidy Adkins, Stephen Baker, Megan Bullen, Gina DelRio, Naytasha Fletcher, Peter Rodrigues, Matthew Stoffregen and Nathan Thiem. The teacher coaches are Heather Nyapas and Richard Stanczak. Jamie Glasser and Lena Henderson are the lawyer coaches. Woodland Hills also competed in last year's Statewide Mock Trial Championships.

In addition to the four teams competing in today's semifinals, eight additional teams participated in the state championships, including the following: B. Reed Henderson High School (Chester County), Beaver Area High School (Beaver County), Cumberland Valley High School (Cumberland County), Holy Redeemer High School (Luzerne County), Montoursville Area High School (Lycoming County), Saint Joseph's Preparatory School (Philadelphia County), Strath Haven High School (Delaware County) and The Haverford School (Montgomery County).

The Pennsylvania Cable Network recorded the final round of the competition for airing statewide on the following dates and times: April 3 at 7 p.m., April 4 at 5 p.m. and April 5 at 3 p.m. The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is providing funding support for the broadcast. Also, DVDs of the final round will be available for purchase from the network's Web site at www.pcntv.com.

Drexel University is the proud partner of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's statewide mock trial program and is the leadership sponsor of the 2010 National Mock Trial Competition, which will be held in Philadelphia, May 6-9, 2010.

For more information about the 2009 Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championships, visit the PBA Web site at http://www.pabar.org.

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 29,000 lawyers who are members of the association.