Wanted: Motivated High School Sstdents

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Bar Association is encouraging students in grades 9-12 to compete in the 2008-2009 Mock Trial Tournament by joining their high school team.

This annual competition gives students the opportunity to further their understanding of the law, court procedures, and our legal system in a hands-on environment.

In the process, students work on honing their speaking, listening, reading, and reasoning skills.

This program is part of a statewide initiative sponsored by the New York State Bar Association’s Law, Youth and Citizenship program.

“I am impressed every year with how well this program has prospered,” said Thomas Benedetto, Esq., who coordinates the program for Oswego County. “The students work very, very hard, so they deserve a lot of the credit. But I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank all of our area school officials, as well as the individual teachers, attorneys and judges, all of whom work so tirelessly to help the students prepare for the actual tournament.”

Teams dedicate 5-10 hours per week, on average, to prepare for the local tournament which runs from January through March.

Benedetto also indicated that watching the students’ progress throughout the season reinforces the importance of this worthwhile program.

“It is extremely gratifying to watch the students improve their speaking, thinking and listening skills as they became more comfortable and experienced in a courtroom setting.  These tools undoubtedly help them to become better thinkers and communicators, and will assist them throughout life in any career path,” he said.

Approximately 75 students participated last year, with teams from Mexico, Hannibal, Central Square, Pulaski, Sandy Creek and APW.

Most teams will have some returning students.  Therefore, Benedetto expected that the ante will once again increase on the level competition.

Despite the success of last year’s program, Benedetto stated that there is still room for improvement and a chance to see the program grow.

“I anticipate there will be ongoing discussions with all of the school superintendents, principals and school advisors over the course of the next several weeks and months to make sure that we are providing a quality program,” he said. “But, I’d like to see a team from every high school.”

He stated that his number one priority is the students.

“I want to make sure that every student in Oswego County has a chance to participate, so that they may enjoy and experience all of the benefits and opportunities that this unique program has to offer,” he said.

Teams, made up of eight or more members, are paired with legal mentors from the Oswego County Bar Association who volunteer their time to work with the students to help prepare them for the trial competitions, which start in February.

Students must plan their own case based on the guidelines in the materials provided by the Law, Youth and Citizenship Program of the New York State Bar Association in late November.

Students will also attend an opening ceremony at the Oswego County Courthouse, tentatively planned for Dec. 5, to witness a mock trial presentation.

All students in grades 9-12 are eligible to join.

Students are encouraged to speak with their school’s Mock Trial Advisor, high school principal, or may contact Benedetto for more information at 349-3360.