Whitehall-Yearling High School junior Marissa White says she wants to be a civil rights and women's rights attorney, especially for black women.

White is laying the early groundwork for career aspirations as a member of the high school's Legal Rams.

She and her classmates put their courtroom skills on display during a mock court session May 17 in council chambers at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.

It was the third annual mock court for Whitehall students.

Whitehall City Attorney Michael Bivens founded the mock court in 2016 as a means to encourage Whitehall students to learn about the judicial system.

He also arranged visits to Whitehall's mayor's court and the Franklin County Courthouse.

Since then, Whitehall-Yearling High School has established curriculum for students to study law.

Students in the Legal Rams participated in regional mock-trial competitions against other schools this year under the direction of their teacher, Rod Lightfoot.

The mock trial at Whitehall City Hall provided an opportunity for students to perform for family, friends and the community.

Whitehall school board President Blythe Wood served as the judge; jury members included Mayor Kim Maggard, Council President Jim Graham, council members Wes Kantor and Larry Morrison, Whitehall-Yearling Principal Paul Smathers and newly appointed board member Jeffrey Lees.

"You all did a wonderful job, and I am proud of each of you," Wood told students after announcing the jury had returned a not-guilty verdict concerning a fictitious case.

A two-student team served as prosecutors and three students served as defense counsel for a defendant -- the owner of a construction company -- charged with two counts of murder after a crane, said to be operated in high wind and without regard, collapsed and killed two people.

Other students portrayed witnesses during the trial.

Sophomore Rachel Neal said she registered for Legal Rams because she "thought it would be fun."

"It has been a new experience I really have enjoyed," she said.

For other students such as White and sophomore Tina Lane, the class is early practice for a law career.

Lane said she plans, after graduation, to join the U.S. Air Force and become a judge-advocate general, eventually attending Ohio State University or Ohio Wesleyan University to complete a law degree.

Last year, Lane played a prosecutor, but this year she portrayed an expert witness for the prosecution.

"I'm looking forward to at least one of you getting a law degree (and) then coming back to be the next city attorney of Whitehall ... then I'll plant a flag and say I had something to do with that," Bivens said.