Springfield High School’s Moot Court Team recently brought home a state championship.
In just its third year in existence, the SHS group won the oral argument competition and tied with Gilmour Academy of Cleveland for the state championship. They had been to state twice previously.
Sixteen teams representing 13 schools participated in oral arguments before panels of judges at the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus. Each team participated in two hearings, representing one side of the case in each session.
During the presentations, judges interrupted participants with questions designed to test their reasoning and oral advocacy skills. Each team also had to submit a written legal brief that was scored by a panel of judges.
“I thinks it’s a misconception that Mock Trial and Moot Court are developing and breeding the next generation of lawyers,” said Springfield coach Katy Osborn. “That’s not our mission. What we’re trying to do is teach our children real life skills that they can apply in any career path and any life situation.”
Her son, Grant, who will be a senior at Springfield High next school year, said, “It’s fun for me. I get to learn a lot about public speaking and critical thinking because the judges ask questions that you haven’t prepared for and you have to come up with responses on the spot.”
The others members of the SHS team are Evy Kearns and Lindsey McCready, who will also be seniors in the fall.
Osborn pointed out preparations began in August, with a review of competition rules and rules of evidence. Case materials arrived in September, and Mock Trial work and competitions continued through mid-March.
Two weeks later, the Moot Court materials came out and the team decided to enter that competition as well. Practices sometimes totaled 20 hours per week, she said.
The SHS program was started by Bill Groves, who is General Counsel for Antioch University in Yellow Springs and is also a coach for this year’s team. Osborn is a partner in the firm of Martin, Browne, Hull and Harper in Springfield.
The SHS program has grown over its three years, from seven members on the Mock Trial Team the first year, to 15-20 on two teams the second and 35 trying out for the squad this year.
Osborn calls it “a great experience” for her as well.
“As a coach, I’m a little nervous,” she said. “But when (Grant) gets up (to present the case), I’m a nervous wreck. But so far, he’s done nothing but exceed my expectations. All the kids have exceeded my expectations.”
While all three of the winning team members will graduate next year, Grant Osborn says the future is good hands. For the first time this year, there was a Mock Trial Class at Springfield High, with some 60 students signed up for the coming school year. And he is chipping in to continue the tradition, conducting a Mock Trial Camp for incoming freshmen next week as part of his school service project.
“If you have any concerns about the next generation, come out and watch one of trials or one of our events and see how hard these kids work,” Osborn said, stressing the activity is voluntary and is done in addition to normal school work.