Winsor School places third in National High School Mock Trial Championship

Thursday, May. 21, 2015
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The Winsor School mock trial team accepts third place at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Raleigh, NC.

Representing Massachusetts, the Winsor School of Boston placed third out of 46 teams in the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 15-16, tying the best-ever finish for a Massachusetts school.

Winsor, an all-girls private school, prevailed over each team it faced - Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama - making it the first Massachusetts team to go undefeated in all four trials at the national tournament. Winsor only narrowly missed a chance to vie for the championship, ultimately won by Nebraska over runner-up Georgia, falling one ballot short under the tournament's judging system. In addition to Winsor's strong team finish, Winsor junior Rebecca Koppel of Wellesley won an Outstanding Attorney award, which recognized her as one of the top 10 students in the nearly 400-student field.

"Congratulations to the exceptional student attorneys from the Winsor School's Mock Trial Team, who represented Massachusetts so admirably on the national stage. We are very proud of their tremendous accomplishments," said Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel and chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Bar Association, which has run Massachusetts' state mock trial program for 30 years. "We are grateful to the parents, teachers and volunteers, whose support and collaboration helped make the students' successful journey to the national competition so rewarding."

The national championship, sponsored by the ABOTA Foundation and the Foundation of the International Association of Defense Counsel, placed high school teams from across the United States, plus one from South Korea, in simulated courtroom situations, where they assumed the roles of lawyers, defendants and witnesses in a hypothetical case. Winsor earned the right to compete in the national championship by winning its third consecutive Massachusetts state championship in March - its fourth state title since 2010.

The students competing for Winsor at the national championship were senior captain Polly Gabrieli; junior captains Rebecca Koppel and Michelle Walsh; juniors Pallavi Krishnamurthy, Anna Morrow, and Caroline Nahill; and sophomores Alexandra Farina and Helen Sayegh. Other traveling members of the state championship team were juniors Anna Davidge and Anya Keomurjian; sophomores Isabel Macenka, Emma Pan, and Saphia Suarez; and freshmen Genevieve Collins, who served as the team's official timekeeper, and Lucie Kapner.

"Our team was tough, resilient, and determined," said Judge David Weingarten, first justice of the Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court and one of the Winsor team coaches. "Their incredibly thorough preparation put them in a position to respond with clarity to problems that arose in trial, allowed them to figure out how to take tough stands and calculated risks as witnesses and, generally, gave them a forum to demonstrate their power as thinkers, public speakers and fighters. This is a team sport and the Winsor girls backed each other deeply and smartly. The results speak loudly for themselves."

In addition to Weingarten, the team was coached by attorney Josh McGuire and teacher-coach Laura Antuna. Interestingly, McGuire was a member of the 1990 and 1991 Newton North Mock Trial Teams, which were the only other Massachusetts teams to finish as high as third at nationals.

A portion of Winsor's trip to North Carolina was funded by a $2,500 donation from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the Massachusetts Bar Association.