Students learn about the legal system through the Civics First Mock Trial competition 


Ana López del Punta '23

Sacred Heart Greenwich members of the Mock Trial team took part in the Civics First Mock Trial competition. Ana López del Punta ’23

Sacred Heart Greenwich Upper School students interested in the legal system participated in the Civics First High School Mock Trial competition January 28.  Under the leadership of co-captains Mimi Lee and Angélique Wheeler, the Mock Trial team competed against two schools in Connecticut.  The Prosecution side defeated East Catholic High School and the Defense side lost against Fairfield Ludlowe High School. 

Fourteen Sacred Heart Greenwich students participate in the Mock Trial competition.  Courtesy of Sacred Heart Communications Dept.

The team members on the Prosecution side were Angélique and Mimi, junior Molly Kriskey, sophomores Catherine Ruf and Lindsay Taylor, and freshman Annika Wise.  The students on the Defense side were junior Gabrielle Wheeler, sophomores Chloe Gaudelet, Caroline Hartch, and Genny Grey, and freshmen Meghan McGrath and Beata Servick.  The timekeeper for the Prosecution side was senior Izzy Sciacca and the timekeeper for the Defense side was sophomore Clare Murray. 

In addition to the team-wide Prosecution victory, Angélique won best lawyer, Molly placed second for best witness, and Mimi won third place for best witness.  In the Defense matchup against Fairfield Ludlowe High School, the team lost.  However, Genny and Chloe came in third for best lawyer and witness, sequentially.

Civics First is an association that offers law-related programs to schools in Connecticut.  Through participating in their programs, students learn about the Constitution and enhance their public speaking skills, according to

This year’s civil case was an adaptation of the 2020 and 2021 Kentucky High School Mock Trial Association competition and the 2012 and 2013 North Carolina Advocates for Justice High School Mock Trial competition.  The trial focused on Ms. Mia Rapinoe, a minor who received a severe concussion during a soccer game.  Since Ms. Rapinoe still suffers physically and mentally due to her injury, her parent sued the soccer coach, club director, and club.  The parent argued that the club carelessly made Ms. Rapinoe play in the game even though she still suffered from an earlier concussion. 

The Sacred Heart Mock Trial team began preparation for the competition in September 2021.  They gathered once every Wednesday to discuss the case and learn about their respective responsibilities as witnesses, lawyers, or timekeepers.  Angélique commented on her roles as co-captain and lawyer.  

Mimi Lee ’22 and Angélique Wheeler ’22 are the co-captains of this year’s Mock Trial team.  Courtesy of Sacred Heart Communications Dept.

“Along with Mimi, I work to come up with when meetings are going to be, what we are going to do in each of the meetings, and what our general team approach is going to be to the competition,” Angélique said.  “I am also a lawyer on the Plaintiff’s side and that means that I am in charge of writing the direct and cross-questions for my witness.  Those questions are to try to show that my side is not responsible for the injuries that the Plaintiff’s client suffered and that the Defense is responsible.” 

Similar to last year, students engaged in the competition via Zoom.  Although Angélique wished the team could have experienced a trial in a real courtroom, she noted that competing through Zoom made students feel more comfortable.  Caroline, a returning member of the Mock Trial team, also remarked on the benefits of competing virtually.  

“By holding the competition virtually, I think a positive thing is the trial is made more accessible,” Caroline said.  “By not having to go to court, the virtual platform facilitates spectators a lot more easily.  There is also an option to record the meeting, which would enable us to look back on the trial and see what went well and what did not.” 

Caroline appreciates the variety of cases students examine in Mock Trial.  This year, she enjoyed learning about what distinguishes civil cases from criminal trials.  Additionally, Caroline remarked that being in the team has helped her grow as a public speaker.  

“By participating in Mock Trial, I have learned so much about how our justice system works, something I think is important for everybody to understand,” Caroline said.  “I believe [that] Mock Trial is a very valuable experience for anyone, regardless of if they want to be a lawyer or not.  The public speaking skills and fast-thinking you learn are really helpful for all aspects of life.” 

This year, the Mock Trial team consists of 14 students.  Angélique reflected on the benefits of having members who are of different experience levels on the team. 

“On one side, we have people who have done Mock Trial before,” Angélique said.  “Then we have a few freshmen who are new to the team and this is their first competition.  They have new ideas and are excited to get into this and learn more about it, whereas everyone else is excited to apply the things they learned last year.  I think that is really helpful for a team to have both of those perspectives working together.” 

Featured Image by Ana López del Punta ‘23