School Snapshots: Windsor High School now has a Mock Trial team | MyWindsorNow.com

School Snapshots: Windsor High School now has a Mock Trial team

Emily Wenger
ewenger@mywindsornow.com

As Brookelle Otte, a sophomore at Windsor High School, stood from her desk to cross-examine a witness during a mock court case, she did her best not to knock anything over.

The room was silent, she said, and her hands were shaking because she was so nervous. But as she started to ask the witness questions, her nervousness started to fade.

"It was then that (I had) this feeling of 'this is it. I'm really here, and I'm living my dream,' " she said.

Otte was playing the role of defense attorney in a murder trial. As she questioned the witness, playing what she said was like a game of cat and mouse, she worked to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of the watching jury.

"And as I turned away, the sound of my heels clicking against the floor, I just had this sense of power that felt absolutely amazing," she said.

Otte was one of 11 Windsor High School students who participated in the first mock trial team Windsor High School has had in many years.

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The group competed at the Northern Colorado Mock Trial Regional Tournament in Fort Collins. Although they didn't continue on in the competition, Kim Schutt, one of the local attorneys who coached the students, said she was proud of the new team's work. Unlike most of the teams at the competition, even the seniors on Windsor's team had never competed before, Schutt said. Being an entirely new team can be tough, but she said they all worked hard to learn as much as they could in the months leading up to the competition.

Mock trial allows students to act as attorneys and witnesses in a court case and to compete with teams at other schools.

Otte said students in the group included those in theater, band, orchestra and sports. Otte wants to go into law, but she said that didn't make her more or less dedicated then her fellow team members — everyone worked hard together.

"It really proved that even if you think that the soccer player and the theater kid have nothing in common, we do, and for us, that was law," she said.

Ben Landfair, a sophomore who played the part of one of the defense attorneys, said he learned the hard work and self-control required to be a lawyer.

The five attorney coaches, Kim Schutt, Cameron Banninga, Ethan Doak, Lillie Parker and Daniel St.John, started working with students in October and practiced with the specific case they took to the competition starting in November.

Schutt said the attorneys have been trying to get a team together for several years, and thanks to Kyle Stapleton, a teacher at Windsor High School who volunteered to be the faculty sponsor of the group, this year they succeeded.

Mock trial gives students a chance to practice speech, debate, reasoning and logic skills, Schutt said, and area attorneys wanted the students at Windsor High School to have that chance.

Otte juggled mock trial and swimming and sometimes couldn't make the practices, which Schutt said typically were twice per week for two hours. But she felt constant support from the team, volunteer attorney coaches and Stapleton.

The coaches plan to keep the group going next year, Schutt said, especially because only two of the 11 students in the group were seniors, so most were excitedly chatting about what they would do next year as soon as the February competition ended.

Every member of the new team, Otte said, no matter their background or other commitments, stepped up when they needed to and helped each other.

"Honestly, that was probably one of the biggest things that I learned, was that as a team, we either succeed as a team or fail as team," Otte said in an email. "So everyone puts in an equal amount of effort."

For more

Mock trial is a new organization at Windsor High School that allows students to act as attorneys and witnesses in a court case, and to compete with teams at other schools. For more information about clubs and organizations for students at Windsor High School, go to bit.ly/WHSOrganizations.