I thoroughly enjoy writing articles about young people who are working toward goals, who are focused and determined to make something of their lives. Sometimes they are driven by having a life better than the one provided by their parents or guardians. Sometimes they want to continue the good life their parents or guardians have provided for them, or exceed that standard of living.
As a crime reporter for more than 25 years, I have written countless articles about 17-year-olds who apparently decided spending the rest of their lives in prison is preferable to taking on the responsibility of adulthood. I sit in court and shake my head at the loss. The show is over, say good-bye.
That’s why I love the high school Mock Trial team. I’ve written quite a bit about the Jonesboro High School team in just the three years since I returned to Clayton County as a reporter. I admit to being more than impressed by Clayton County teachers, judges and attorneys who take their own personal time to work with these up-and-coming legal eagles.
I’ve seen them practice and I’ve seen them compete and they are remarkable. Most recently during a practice, teacher Coach Andrew Cox played a witness straight out of a Steinbeck novel. I couldn’t help but chuckle at his brilliant performance but the student-attorneys stayed in character and grilled him as well as any lawyer who’d passed a bar.
While I was researching for the article I wrote last week on the Jonesboro team heading to state competition March 15, I discovered that the Eagle’s Landing High School team won its district competition in Macon and will be heading to state competition, too, at Gwinnett Justice Center.
Wow. We have two high schools in the Southern Crescent battling each other for the state title of best Mock Trial team. That’s something of which to be proud and is deserving of some newspaper ink.
The students and their parents should be proud. The coaches — teachers, judges and attorneys who make sacrifices to guide them — should be proud. More importantly, the Henry and Clayton communities should be proud. These kids have goals and are focused and driven to succeed. They have mentors who care about them and want them to become the best adults they can.
These kids are some of the best and brightest in their schools. They will be leaders, they will be productive members of society. They will be somebody. They are worthy of being an example in either of their schools and should be applauded for their successes. They don’t wear a sports uniform, they wear nicely-pressed blazers, skirts, trousers and ties. They have and show respect for adults around them.
Congratulations to both schools, both teams and good luck to all of you on March 15. You’ve already shown your communities you’re the best. Now go show the state. We’re proud of you and are cheering you on.
I’d wager the only time you will see these kids in court is dressed in legal eagle finery, standing beside or opposite someone in an ratty, oversized orange jumpsuit.