East Meadow Teammates Call Their Mock Trial Experience Beautiful
Speaking to three seniors on the W.T. Clarke High School mock trial team in East Meadow, you can see the gratitude they share.
“It’s always such a joy to hang out with them,” says Sofia Passariello. “I always look forward to our meetings because it’s always great to be able to bond with everybody. It’s not just the work, but it’s really good socially, and we are able to work together so well.”
The Clarke High School team represents Region VII at the state competition in Albany. Eight teams from across New York are competing in the semi-finals May 22-23. The team struggled through the virtual years during Covid and is reinvigorated this year to be performing in person.
“It was a lot more personal, and it feels energizing to be in the courtroom,” says Gurdev Bhurji. “You can actually look the person you’re crossing in the eye. You can look at the judge in the eye when you’re giving the opening or the closing statements.”
The students give up sleep to practice early on Saturday mornings. Clarke alumni from the school’s past championship teams are known to drop in on those practices to lend a hand. “I love this idea of bringing in the older people that have done this before. They give us advice from the student side versus a teacher side,” says senior Itohan Eke.
Eke says the team’s diversity is its greatest strength. “I like how everyone brings a different skill to the table. We have theater kids that participate as witnesses. We have kids that do law and public speaking classes that are very good at this. Then there are kids like me, I’m more focused towards engineering, so I help with the expert witnesses,” she says.
Sofia Passariello is looking forward to visiting Albany and sharing the achievement with her friends. “I’m really excited for the overall experience of States, being in the courtroom and meeting the other schools who have made it as far as we have,” she says. “It’ll be really nice to share the experience with my team because I love them.”
Eke says the culmination of all the hard work comes together like a work of art. “It’s how beautiful it all plays out in the end. We put all the hard work into it, like all the Saturday practices, and then you get to the courtroom, and you see how well it pays off. It was a surprise to me how beautiful it turns out.”