Heschel School Mock Trial Team Is Fired Up To Attend First Statewide Competition
The mock trial team at Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan is taking nothing for granted in preparing for their first trip to the statewide mock trial championship this month in Albany. The team placed second in the New York City Mock Trial Competition behind Hunter College High School. The top two city teams advance to the state competition in Albany May 21-23.
For the seniors on the team, this trip to Albany is the culmination of four years of overcoming challenges, including a freshman season cut short and two years doing mock trial on zoom. Senior Joe Lyss says team members are looking forward to presenting their case in the federal courthouse in Albany. “We experienced some in-person matches in March 2020, or February 2020 and then tenth and eleventh grade were on zoom for us. So, it was really exciting this year to be back in person,” he said.
The Heschel team is made up of 20 students, more than the usual 12 positions on a mock trial team. The team captains explain that the freshman class really impressed them at the school’s tryouts this fall. The six new 9th graders showed up to work and helped the upper-class team members.
“They are the most dedicated freshmen that we’ve seen in a while, always really helping out a lot, definitely adding to the enthusiasm and excitement of the group,” says Heschel senior Zoe Singer.
Mira Cohen credits the team’s success this season to its collegiality and strong work ethic. “Part of the reason we’re so strong, I believe, is because we are a close-knit group of people, and we can all rely on each other. That feeling kind of transitions into the courtroom from outside, “she said.
The team needed to rely on each other even more after progressing to the city championship round following the regular season. The faculty coach, David Steinberg, and all of the 10th grade members of the team left for a two-week school trip to Israel, missing some of the competition. “The Israel component mixed things up a bit but we learned to readjust,” said senior Rose Buchdahl. “It helped us strengthen ourselves as a team with some lawyers playing both roles, and new people stepping into new roles. “
Captain Mira Cohen says the team, now all back in the United States is “overpreparing” for their Albany debut, but taking time to savor the moment. “This is a really special moment and a special opportunity for us. I think for the five of us as seniors, it does feel very, very special that you know our final season. We get to have this big opportunity.”
Zoe Singer agrees and offers that whatever the outcome, “We are proud of ourselves and cherish what we have accomplished. We are making Heschel history!”
See our YouTube video with the team below: