Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Jonesboro High School juniors, Jezreel Amica and Attallah Ali, say they, and their mock trial teammates, are being driven this year by how the team finished its season last year.
A year ago, the team members were young, mostly underclassmen in their first year in mock trial. They finished in second place at the state competition.
As some Jonesboro team members cried, and patted each other on the back for making it as far as they did, at the end of last year's state contest, members of Grady High School's state championship team cheered for their own victory, a few yards away.
Ali said it should be Jonesboro cheering this year.
"It serves as a real motivation for us," said Amica, 15, of how things ended a year ago. "For one thing, we don't want to be outside, not cheering for ourselves. We want to make it to the national competition this year, and face a new challenge."
Ali, 16, added, "We want to have our cake and eat it, too."
Jonesboro High School won its tenth consecutive Clayton County mock trial championship last weekend, with a victory over Lovejoy High School in the county-level championship round.
Jonesboro's team members now have to look forward to, and prepare for, next month's state competition, which will be held March 18-20, at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, at 75 Langley Drive, in Lawrenceville.
The team's members are: Ali, Amica and fellow Jonesboro students, Tyler Anthony, Tre Brown, Brandon Cash, Callie Christian, Mylon Craig, Ryan Cutler, Jabria Hazel, Breanna McKnight, Rachel Rohrbach, Nancy Saucedo, Kiara Scott, and Erin Toole.
The coaches are: Jonesboro High School teachers (and husband and wife) Anna and Andrew Cox, Clayton County State Court Judge John C. Carbo, Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley, Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers, and Georgia State University law student, Karen Smith.
Jonesboro has a lot of history buttressing it, as it prepares for this year's state mock trial competition. Even though the school has not won a state championship since 2008, it still holds more state titles than any other school in Georgia (six all together).
It has also previously won two national championships, tying it for the most championships in national mock trial history.
Ali said the history is not lost on this year's team, and there is a sense that it has a certain level of high expectations to live up to at the state competition. "It serves as a motivation to continue what we're known for, which is being a good team, and competitive, and putting up a hard fight," she said.
McKnight, 16, said the team is putting in somewhere between eight and 12 hours of practice every week to get ready for the state competition. And, she added, that is just the amount of time team members spend in formal practice settings. "We work a lot to make ourselves better, when we go home [after practices]," she said.
Carbo said the team is doing well right now, about where it usually is right after a county competition. Carbo, Powers and Smith scrimmaged against the team on Thursday night, with the coaches throwing up tests for the team's "defense" to solve.
"They're doing very well," he said. "We're pleased with how they are coming along. They scored well [at the county competition]. They really stepped up a lot in the two weeks before the competition."