Bordentown Regional High School Mock Trial team crowned co-winner of state championship

The Bordentown Regional High School Mock Trial team was crowned co-champ of the 2019-20 Vincent J. Apruzzese Mock Trial Competition on April 30. They are the first team from Burlington County to win a state championship in the tournament's history.PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN TOBIAS
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The Bordentown Regional High School Mock Trial team was crowned co-champ of the 2019-20 Vincent J. Apruzzese Mock Trial Competition on April 30. They are the first team from Burlington County to win a state championship in the tournament's history.PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN TOBIAS

Bordentown is the first school from Burlington County to win a state championship in the 39 years of the tournament

BORDENTOWN – It’s official: the Bordentown Regional High School mock trial team has been named one of two state champions.

It was announced on April 30 by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation that both Bordentown and Montclair High School were named co-champs of the 2019-20 Vincent J. Apruzzese Mock Trial Competition.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Bordentown mock trial Coach John Tobias said. “We beat a lot of powerhouse schools. The kids held their own in the courtroom.”

The two schools were scheduled to compete against each other in the finals on March 19, but the event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and later cancelled.

Kayla Downing, Suhas Kanamarlapudi, Jessica Martin, Olivia McGlone, George Mousa, Anush Nandyala, Maranatha Paul, Summer Roberts, Keeler Robinson, Brett Schreiner and Sanya Varma made Bordentown’s team, which was assisted by attorney Bill Simmons.

The team tackled a case that surrounded the death of a police dog that occurred outside a residence where a party was being held. A teenage girl who was drinking at the party was startled by the dog and her friend then hit the canine with a bottle that caused its death.

Working together as lawyers and witnesses, Bordentown’s team was able to beat four high schools on its way to the finals.

Downing, who is a team captain and played the key witness in the trial, credits the team’s great communication to its success.

“Our communication was really strong and it motivated us to learn more about the case as we moved on in the tournament,” Downing said.

Bordentown defeated both Princeton High School and Hillsborough High School in the first round of the tournament.

After defeating Kent Place School in the Central Regional final, Bordentown topped Eastern Regional High School in the state semifinals to make it to the state final.

Bordentown analyzed the case before each round. The team would even look at methods that other schools took towards the case and would use some of those styles for new perspectives of the case in their next trial.

“We were very proactive this year,” Robinson said. “We had many opportunities to update the case and did so to help us in each trial.”

The mock trial team provides students a chance to experience a field that they would like to go into after school.

“It teaches you a lot about critical thinking and how to prepare you for a career in political science,” Roberts said.

It also gives students an opportunity to explore new avenues in their learning.

Mousa, who played a lawyer role for Bordentown in his first year on the team, said the mock trial experience was way more fun than he expected.

“Being on the team helped me learn techniques like public speaking and critical thinking that will help me in any field I pursue,” Mousa said. “I learned a lot and had a great time being a part of the team this year.”

Bordentown is the first school from Burlington County to win a state championship in the 39 years of the tournament.

Even though they weren’t able to compete in the state final against Montclair, the team has no complaints about how everything went and are proud of what they accomplished.

“We all worked so hard to make it to this point,” Mousa said. “We’re very proud to have the title of co-champs. It’s very exciting to achieve that.”