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Cape High mock trial team places fourth in state competition

Junior Morgan Whittam wins four gavels
March 19, 2019

After placing fourth at the state mock trial competition, the Cape High mock trial team is already eyeing next year’s challenge.

“That was our highest place ever,” said junior Morgan Whittam. “We were 15th last year, so this was a big jump for us. We’re shooting for first next year.”

Held Feb. 22-24 in Wilmington, the tournament hosted teams from 25 Delaware public and private schools that enact trials before a panel of judges, attorneys and other members of the legal community.

During the mock trial, students play the roles of witnesses and attorneys in the case. Teams go through four preliminary rounds, allowing each team to present both sides of the case.

Students can win gavel awards in each category, witness and attorney, each round. Morgan won four gavels, the only student to receive the award for outstanding lawyer in every round.

“It was nice to win fourth place and four gavels,” Morgan said. “We’ve been working hard since our freshman year, and it really showed.”

Coach April Betts said the team had been working on the case together at least 10 hours a week and individually as well since January, which was tough because all students participate in other extracurricular activities.

Betts said the team was supported by a CHEF grant, a donation from the Sussex County Bar Association and Tunnel & Raysor law firm, which gave a financial donation and loaned attorney Taylor Trapp, who served as a coach for the team.

Students said other participating teams noticed Cape’s team was a worthy opponent. They said they received a lot of support from other Sussex County school teams during the tournament. Cape was the only Sussex County team to finish in the top five.

“We wanted to crack the top 10 and we placed fourth,” said Cape High teacher and mock trial team advisor Kristian Schmidt. “The kids worked hard and the coaches are the unsung heroes supporting the team.”