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Letter to the Editor: Congrats to San Marin High Mock Trial Team

Formed only two years ago, the team is already No. 3 in the county and helped Tam High take fourth in the state.

By Laura Morales

On Friday March 4, the San Marin High School Mock Trail Team met at the Marin County Courthouse for one last go at People v. Woodson, a mock trial in which a student was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and with violating an anti-bullying and cyberbullying statute. The 19-student team had been asked by Tamalpais High School to help it prepare for the state competition, a request that the San Marin team could not refuse.

On March 26, Tamalpais High School finished fourth in the state.

As demonstrated by that goodwill gesture, San Marin had a tremendous Mock Trial season. The competition culminated on Feb. 5 where they competed against six other Marin County high schools and took third place.

Why is this important? Two years ago San Marin High School did not have a Mock Trial Team, and in two short years has risen to one of the top performing teams in the county.

Each year, outstanding performance awards have been awarded to San Marin students, with this year’s competition naming three San Marin students for individual excellence: Brad Walchli (prosecution trial attorney); Taylor Grant, (prosecution witness); Peter Slanina (courtroom clerk).

Mock trial competitions involve high school students arguing a case created for them in front of actual judges and attorneys in real courtrooms at the county courthouse in San Rafael. Every role, including attorneys, witnesses and courtroom personnel, is performed by a mock trial student.

The great thing about mock trial is that it involves so many different things. Not only does it expose students to the legal system, but they learn how to create logical arguments on their feet. They learn how to speak in public confidently. It is a combination of critical thinking, logic and theater all mixed into one.

The students do not receive school or community service credit for participating with the team, and along with the volunteer attorney coaches, give up their lunch breaks and many, many hours of their evenings and weekends for four months to prepare for the competition. Many students are on sports teams, music and drama as well.

At a time when the news around education is saturated with “what is not working,” it seems to be a good time to take a moment and acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments that are happening within our local schools and how students and parents in our community are making a difference.

Many thanks this year to attorney coaches Chris Sheron, Alan Charmatz and Jay Ruskin, and teacher sponsor Kimberly Laabs. A special acknowledgement to Chris Sheron who volunteered to establish the SMHS Mock Trial Team in 2010 and has provided leadership that has allowed the team to compete and win against some of the best schools in the county.

Sylvia Barry April 24, 2011 at 01:05 AM
Congratulations to San Marin Mock Trial Team for their hard work and accomplishment! Kudos to Attorney Coach, Chris Sheron, for his vision and dedication to form this team and to gain support from the school, other attorneys and the community; and now, in short two years, become one of the best Mock Trial teams in Marin County. You should see how proud he was when he gave his passionate impromptu speech about this club and the students at one of the Rotary meetings. It takes a village to build a great school. San Marin and the students are truly fortunate to have such wonderful students, caring parents and community supporters! Thank you, Laura, for giving credit where credit is due!
FINNEGAN'S MARIN April 24, 2011 at 02:30 AM
SM taking big steps forwards in both athletics and academics in 2010-2011. Great to see the Mustangs doing so well. Sheron, Hickey, Whitburn, Pitti.. to name a few.. Great SM names! Go Mustangs!
Sylvia Barry April 24, 2011 at 06:49 AM
Good point! Speaking of which, don't forget Mrs. Kenyon, mentor for San Marin Speech and Debate Club and Mr. Sousa, advisor for San Marin Robotics club; two other great clubs for San Marin students ... http://novato.patch.com/announcements/san-marin-robotics-competes-at-first-robotics-competition-at-uc-davis-this-saturday
Roger April 26, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Sylvia: You are so right about Mrs. Kenyon. She took the new small SM debate club several weeks ago in her own van for a huge 2-day High School debate tourament at Sant Clara University. One SM team won 3 of its 5 debates, which is quite an accomplishment considering SM's club is new and many other schools competing actually offer courses in the subject.

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