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Mock Trial Team Goes To Harvard

For the first time in its history, the Massapequa High School Mock Trial Team was invited to hone its skills at Harvard University’s High School Training Seminar. The seminar offers a range of basic and advanced classes that better position teams to win state and national competitions.

Participants — seniors Rebecca Girardin, Jenna Petrungaro, Christie Flanders, Cameron Wunderlin, Justin Jakubowski and juniors Selin Solen, Jeremy Wiss, Griffin Konen, Emily O’Leary, Nicole Feeley, Nicolle Dananberg, Taylor DelValle, Jillian Prystupa and Katie McMahon — called the experience, “amazing.”

Placed in advanced classes because of the extensive program offered at Massapequa, the students soaked up all they could on public speaking, body language, trial advocacy and the Federal Rules of Evidence. They received individual attention in breakout sessions to improve their own personal strengths and weaknesses, and received guidance in applying to colleges from a session by Princeton Review. The teams then performed against each other using the skills they learned through the Harvard Method.

“What was most amazing about this experience was watching the team prepare an 86-page case pattern in two days,” said Dan Bachman, the team’s advisor. “The students worked from first thing in the morning until they went to bed. They demonstrated an intellectual level of perseverance that was astonishing to watch. The team will undoubtedly operate on a higher level this year, giving them a major advantage in the upcoming competitions.”

The team learned about the opportunity from one of Harvard’s High School Seminar Directors, Lauren Reisig, a 2012 Massapequa graduate and former Mock Trial Team member who is currently a sophomore at the university. The Massapequa’s Mock Trial Team won the county championship in her senior year.

Massapequa was joined by East Islip as the only two Long Island teams at the seminar. Others hailed from states throughout the country, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Virginia and North Carolina.

Students fundraised and worked together to make the trip a reality. Bachman said he was also grateful for the district’s help in allowing the team to realize this goal.