“Mock trial pushes you out of your comfort zone. You talk to people you don’t know and learn to be a leader,” said Velasquez.
Dalton High School senior Cole Young and junior Omar Velasquez are looking forward to using their new knowledge in this year's mock trial competition. The two students attended the Georgia Mock Trial Law Academy in August, and Velasquez passed the culminating bar exam.
Minako Barry, teacher and mock trial coach at Dalton High School, nominated Young and Velasquez for the opportunity, and the Dalton Education Foundation helped pay tuition for them to attend the two-day academy in Atlanta. While there, they spent time meeting with lawyers who work in a variety of fields of law to get tips and advice, along with studying specific cases.
Each student agreed that the biggest takeaways from the academy were how to improve their strategies in the mock trial competition. Young, who will play the role of an attorney this year, is looking forward to seeing how he has improved. " I was a time keeper last year. I'm excited to look back and see how far I've come," he said. "I think I can really make a difference for our team this year."
Velasquez, who will be a closing attorney this year, agreed that he feels more confident about what do in situations he may face on trial that he didn't know how to handle before. "Last year as an attorney on the team, I had trouble controlling my witness. I really paid attention to those tactics at the academy," he said. "I'm excited to put my skills to use this year."
Velasquez is the only member of the team who has participated since freshman year, and he feels his dedication and consistency is a huge advantage. "Mock trial pushes you out of your comfort zone. You talk to people you don't know and learn to be a leader," he said. "I learned at the academy that everyone is a role model to someone else, so we should always try our best to be a good leader."
The experience encouraged both students to think about pursuing law in the future. Young said he was interested in either law or engineering and hopes to attend Kennesaw State, Auburn or Clemson University. Velasquez wants to either study law or programming.
As the students put it, they are preparing now to enter into a battle of wits as their team studies the assigned case and fills the roles in the courtroom. The mock trial competition will start at the beginning of the year with the potential to move on to region, state and national rounds.