The Thomas Worthington High School Mock Trial team will advance to regional competition after defeating two district teams Feb. 1 in Marion.
Worthington Kilbourne High School entered two teams this year, but neither won at the district competition held in Delaware County on the same day.
This is the 30th year for high school mock trials, which allow students from across Ohio to test their courtroom skills.
The regional competition will be held later this month in Columbus. Winning teams will go on to state mock trials in March. The state winner will compete in the national competition in May.
More than 350 competed Feb. 1 in 31 locations around Ohio.
This year's case analyzed the limits of police interrogation of teenagers in a murder investigation.
To maximize student learning, teams of five to 11 students must play both prosecution and defense attorneys and witnesses while participating in two trials against different area high schools. To advance, teams must win both their plaintiff and defense rounds against opposing schools.
During the first round in Marion, TWHS Team America's prosecution side defeated North Union High School Team Flicker's defense side.
Freshman Jocelyn Decker won the best attorney award for her performance as a prosecuting attorney, and sophomore Tina Liu won the best witness award for portraying a high school guidance counselor.
Other members of the prosecution team were freshman Christina Mertz, a prosecuting attorney; and sophomore Alden Shepherd, a student witness.
In the second round, TWHS Team America's defense side defeated Pleasant High School Team Red's prosecution side. Sophomore Nisha Bhattacharya received recognition as the best attorney for defending her client, and freshman Lucy Porter won the best witness award for performing the role of the student defendant.
Other members of the defense team were freshman Eddie Gao, a defense attorney; and senior Tyraneka Magee, who portrayed a police detective.
"It is, of course, rewarding to advance in the competition," said Paul Nick, Thomas Worthington's team coach and legal adviser. "However, mock trial really is about students learning how self-confidence and professional respect can make them effective advocates, as lawyers or citizens."
Kilbourne entered two teams at the district competition -- Team Carpe Diem and Team Suppression -- coached by attorneys Thomas Novack and David VanSlyke.
The defense side of Team Carpe Diem included attorneys Hannah Vincent and Manda Cash and witnesses Morgan Novack and Alex Cash. They won their round against Village Academy, with Vincent earning the outstanding attorney award in the round.
The prosecution included attorneys Michelle Ding and George Liu, witnesses Rachel Hudson and Mica Vincent. They lost to Big Walnut.
The prosecution and defense of Team Suppression lost their rounds against Village Academy and Delaware Hayes. The prosecution included attorneys Maria Pawluk and Apsara Sankar and witnesses Audrey Shih and Samantha Francis.
The attorneys for the defense were Leah Terhune and Amelia Boudinot. Witnesses were Danielle Ding and Audrey Shih.
"Despite not advancing, I am extremely proud of the level of performance and professionalism exhibited by our students," Novack said.
The demands of the mock trial program require participants to perform at a level comparable to a second-year law student, he said.
The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education designs programs to assist teachers in teaching about government, citizenship and the law.
The center is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio State Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation and the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
In addition, the Ohio Mock Trial competition is made possible in part by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.