‘Absolutely rocked it’: The Park School’s mock trial team first from Maryland to win national championship By CAMERON GOODNIGHT
The Park School of Baltimore, a private school located on Old Court Road in Baltimore County, recently won the National High School Mock Trial Championship, becoming not only the first Maryland school to send its team to the national competition but the state’s first national mock trial champion.
Mock trial competitions test students ability to understand the legal process in simulated trials. Students are provided a case, assigned roles as attorneys or witnesses, and compete against other schools as the prosecution or defense. Park School demonstrated outstanding performances of this criteria through the state and national competitions this year, according to the team’s coaches.
“This team just absolutely rocked it start to finish,” said Matt Rogers, one of Park School’s attorney coaches.
Hosted virtually on Zoom from Evansville, Indiana, the national competition included 46 state champions, as Park School successfully defeated four “power matched” state champions from Florida, Ohio, Georgia and Illinois — earning them a 4-0 record through the tournament before beating Iowa City High School in the championship round on May 15.
Park School’s teacher-coach Tony Asdourian explained that “power matched” opponents won their first match in the competition and faced off against undefeated teams.
“After two matches, the team that is 2-0 faces a team that is 2-0,” he said. “It’s designed so that the best teams get filtered out by the four rounds of the competition.”
Senior team captain Lucy Demsky said the team was excited going into the final round and “over the moon” once they heard Iowa City High School was the runner-up.
“I think that our whole team really came to play and really put all of their hard work and dedication on what we’ve been working on for the entire season into that trial,” she said.
Just a few weeks before competing at nationals, Park School defeated River Hill High School on March 11 in the Maryland Youth and the Law’s 2021 Mock Trial Virtual Championship to become state champions.
“The second we won our state championship — instead of enjoying that for 30 seconds — our two team captains immediately started sending emails to the national competition committee as well as our state competition committee,” Rogers said.
An unconventional Maryland state championship schedule due to the pandemic allowed Park School an opportunity to compete at nationals this year which started on April 1, said Rogers.
“Generally the Maryland state competition ends too late for us to participate in the national competition at all,” he said. “But because of COVID, the competitions were being done on Zoom and we were actually able to accelerate the schedule a little bit. We finished our state competition early enough that it allowed a small sliver of opportunity to compete in the national competition.”
Rogers credited his team for noticing the different schedule for the state competition and pushing to be in National tournament.
“Our students just would not take no for an answer and ended up getting us enrolled in the National competition,” he said.
Demsky reflected on begging committee coordinators to allow Maryland into the national tournament.
“[Co-captain Aidan Connors] was really the driving force,” she said. “She was full steam ahead emailing all the nationals people trying to figure out ways to get Maryland in and we were all right there behind her — helping her by emailing, calling people, working with our Maryland coordinators, so they could work with the nationals coordinators.”
After getting accepted into the tournament, Park School had six weeks to prepare a case and learn the rules and practices of a new competition that they had never participated in before. Park School’s mock trial team included 15 members and four coaches, although only nine members competed at nationals.
“They worked as hard as they possibly could for the six weeks practicing a couple times a week, sometimes late into the night,” Rogers said. “It was really the kids. They did all the brainstorming, case theory, forming, practice — we were just there to help.”
Park School has reached significant success at the state level in the past. With their recent state championship in March, they now have won five Maryland State Championships, which is more than any other school.
There are also the only school in the state to win back-to-back titles, Rogers said.
This was the first year that any Maryland State Champion competed in the National High School Mock Trial Championship.
“I am so proud of my entire team,” Demsky said. “Not only has Maryland never been to nationals before but the first time we went we won.”