The Eagle's Landing High School Mock Trial Team is headed to the state finals in mock trial competition this weekend.
"We've been practicing nearly every night, and on Saturdays, to prepare for the March 19th state final at the Gwinnett Judicial Center," said teacher Barbara Rosolino, one of the team's coaches. "We feel that we've worked so hard to get here, and we're hoping to make the final round on Sunday. Naturally, a trip to Arizona [the site of the National Mock Trial Competition] would be sweet."
The 14-student mock trial team consists of Joren Blasco, John Eng, Vanessa Cloutman, Kaitlyn Cronin, Kandice DuBay, Nick Foskey, Marc Hosecloth, Jordan Jackson, Meselle Jeff-Eke, Ghassan Issa, Akil Kalathil, Caroline Martin, Jordan Richardson, and Alyssa Ta.
The team is also coached local attorneys Pandora Palmer, Katie Fagan, and Brian Strickland, who are affiliated with Smith, Welch & Brittain, and Mike Martin, a criminal defense attorney and municipal court judge for the City of Fayetteville.
Teacher Barbara Rosolino — who teaches Advanced Placement Literature and Composition, Honors English II, and English II at Eagle's Landing — has been working with the crew of attorneys for the past five years. Students on the team, she remarked, are also involved in band, soccer, karate, and dual enrollment.
"Nevertheless, they've truly committed themselves to the team, rearranging practice schedules and coming in on Saturdays, in order to be the best team they can be," she said.
Eagle's Landing has been to state competition twice before, according to Rosolino. She said last month's regional victory was the team's third regional win, adding to wins in 2007 and 2008.
"This last win was really so exciting," Rosolino said. "It was thrilling and, as ever, winning never gets old.
"We are the only Henry County school to have won the region three times ...," she explained. "Therefore, we have been to the state competition twice before, a rather long time ago, but we are hoping to make it to the finals round on Sunday."
Sixteen regional champions, and two wild card teams, will compete at the 23rd Annual Georgia Mock Trial Competition, on March 19-20, at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville, Ga.
The competition is sponsored the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, according to State Mock Trial Coordinator Stacy Rieke. It will yield a winning team that will represent the state in the National High School Mock Trial Championship, to be held May 4-8, in Phoenix, Ariz. That team will compete among more than 40 state champion teams from around the country.
This weekend, Eagle's Landing will find itself among elite regional champion teams, including perennial regional champs, Jonesboro High School in Jonesboro. The team is led teacher coach, Anna Cox, and Clayton County State Court Judge John C. Carbo, and will represent Clayton County Public Schools.
Rieke noted that all teams will compete on March 19, in preliminary rounds scheduled for 9 a.m., and 1 p.m. Four semi-finalist teams will meet in competition on March 20, at 9:30 a.m. The two finalists will be announced Sunday at noon, and they will compete in the championship round at 1:30 p.m.
The state mock trial coordinator said championship rounds will be presided over Judge Sara Doyle, of the Georgia Court of Appeals, and Judge Louisa Abbot, of the Superior Court of Chatham County/Eastern Judicial Circuit.