by Lisa Tome
Kyshawn Brown watched the law come to life.
Brown, a student at Tri-State Christian Academy, and a member of the school's Mock Trial Team, said that arguing a case and watching courtroom proceedings unfold, taught him life lessons.
"This teaches forethought and how to think on our feet. You also learn research skills," said Brown.
Tri-State Christian Academy currently has the only Mock Trial Team in the county. In order to compete this year they had to travel to Harford County.
Abby McAndrews got to put her acting skills to work as a member of the team. She portrayed a witness - the parent of a child who sustained an injury while playing sports. "It felt like I was portraying a character. And it was easy to put yourself in their shoes," said McAndrews.
Teacher Tom Berry serves as the coach. He explained that the school first fielded a team last school year. This year marked the first in which the team competed.
Teams consist to up to 12 members, consisting of students in grades 10,11, and 12. The case is written so it is gender neutral.
The State of Maryland provides the mock trial competition packet. The case rotates from year to year between civil and criminal matters. This year, the teams tackled a civil case.
Once the school receives the case, they begin preparing. Each team is responsible for managing the case, fact finding, and providing witnesses. They also must be prepared to be both plaintiff/prosecution and defense.
"We have to be prepared to argue both sides," said Berry.
The Tri-State Christian Academy won in Harford County and also competed in Baltimore County. "One school we competed against had 2,000 students," said Berry. Tri-State Christian Academy has about 100 students in the secondary grades.
Berry said being a team member teaches important life skills - problem solving, critical thinking, public speaking, looking for minor details and analyzing them, as well as teamwork and communication. They also get to use a bit of drama.
"It's just like a trial. You go in not knowing what the other team has in their case," said Berry. The Tri-State team had three witnesses and three lawyers this year.
Team members Seniors Michael Moore, Andrew Simpson, Madison Cox, James Donnelly, and Abby McAndrews, Juniors Kayleigh Henry, Alex Megenhardt, Kyshawn Brown, and Tim Walton, and Sophomore John Barber. Brian Tome serves as legal advisor to the team.
"They were incredible. This is a class that they love. It's something fun that they enjoy and they don't even know they are learning," said Berry.