Persistence Pays Off for New Paltz High School Mock Trial Team

By Jennifer Andrus

May 14, 2024

Persistence Pays Off for New Paltz High School Mock Trial Team


By Jennifer Andrus

The New Paltz High School Mock Trial team is headed to the state tournament for the first time, after many years placing a close second in competition. This year, the team’s determination paid off, upsetting perennial favorite, and last year’s region IV winner, The Mount Academy.

“Beating Mount was a big upset,” said team captain Aurora Gerber. “Our team may not always win, but we have a real determination. We’ve had wins and losses, but we never give up, and even if in the middle of a trial when things aren’t going our way, we never give up, and we just push forward.”

Long time coach and history teacher Albert Cook agrees, saying this team thrives under pressure.

“There have been multiple meetings that we’ve had where it felt like the tide was against us. I’ve had teams in the past that would melt under that pressure when they feel like they’re losing,” he said. “This team is not easily intimidated, and it’s what I really admire about them.”

Both Gerber and Cook say the team’s success can be attributed to its collaboration with all team members on all aspects of the case. That process paid off when the team lost several members to a scheduling conflict between Mock Trial and the NYSSMA music competition.

“We found out that five of our members couldn’t compete. So, three witnesses had to learn whole new roles, and then they performed it at regional finals and got directed, got cross, totally like normal. Their hard work is really what led us to success,” said Gerber.

“Since we do everything as a group, if felt less of creating something from scratch and more of building off of something we had already done,” said Jiho Son, one of three students who took on new roles.

The team is a good mix of veterans and new members, who were surprised at how much they enjoyed being in the club.

“I learned a lot this year from my teammates, who are so innovative. I enjoy listening to them and being on mock trial helps you keep an open mind, and that’s what I really like about it,” said first-year team member Sasha Saint-Louis.

“Mock trial is definitely not what I expected at all,” said Samuel DePoala. “It was like a hundred times more fun and one of the most fun after school activities I’ve ever been in.”

Veterans and first year members alike are excited to go up against the best schools in the state later this month in Albany.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how our team performs,” said Emily Bishop. “We have really good lawyers and witnesses, and when we are under pressure, we come alive and get really confident. I think it will be fun.”

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