Mock Trial wins big at competition

A cross examination of Oak Park High’s Mock Trial team

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Mock Trial wins big at competition

The Mock Trial Gold and Black teams at the Ventura County Competition.

The Mock Trial Gold and Black teams at the Ventura County Competition.

Aashika Srinivas/Talon

The Mock Trial Gold and Black teams at the Ventura County Competition.

Aashika Srinivas/Talon

Aashika Srinivas/Talon

The Mock Trial Gold and Black teams at the Ventura County Competition.

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Oak Park High School’s Mock Trial black team witnessed their third return to the top eight bracket in four years at the Ventura County Competition. Overall, the black team ranked eighth place and the gold team placed 10th.

In addition, six students took home individual awards in various categories: freshman Shreya Maddhali and sophomore Jay Dugar won second place for prosecution pretrial, sophomore Prerana Rao won second place for defense pretrial, junior Briana Szabo won first place as bailiff, freshman Arnav Subramanian won second place as a defense witness and junior Vikshara Dave won first place as a defense witness.

The team members prepared for the competition during Mock Trial class, by meeting up after school and on various weekends.

“I had to work outside of school and we had class Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Subramanian said. “We had to develop a character and memorize a statement and create a theme in addition to other stuff.”

Due to the disasters the community faced in November and later through the winter, Mock Trial’s captains were uncertain about how well the team would place this year.

“Because of the fires and mudslides, we lost critical class time out of an already cramped and packed year,” co-captain and senior Krishna Kandury said. “Oak Park was the most severely affected out of all of the 30 teams that competed at the county level, and we feared that such a loss of precious time would slow us down too much to compete unless we put in more, far more effort, in far less time.”

Even after facing such adversities, Kandury said that he was proud of his team.

“This year’s class gave one of the best performances in the history of the program, with both teams working with remarkable skill and work ethic, placing in the top 10 and one team going all the way to the top eight in arguably the most competitive county in the state,” Kandury said.

Some team members said Mock Trial has taught them essential life skills, such as teamwork.

“I learned that working together as a team is important,” Dave said. “You can’t hold the whole team up by yourself and it is important to listen to others’ opinions and concerns.”

Dave won first place for her portrayal of “imaginary” defense witness, Sam Kolostian, in the case People v. Klein. This year was Dave’s third year on a high school-level team, but her fifth year overall participating in Mock Trial.

Other team members have also learned skills such as public speaking and proper etiquette.

“This year in Mock Trial, I learned to be in something bigger than yourself and I found a second family,” Subramanian said. “I also learned to become better at public speaking and courtroom decorum which people have trouble with.”

For Kandury, his passion for Mock Trial developed over time.

“I joined the class purely by force in my freshman year. It was the only way to make my carpool system work, but I was captivated by the intense work and camaraderie within the program within a couple classes, and have refused to let go since,” Kandury said. “From being a backup witness to a team captain, every moment that I have spent working with my teammates I still relish long after.”

Although Kandury will be graduating this year, he still has high expectations for next year’s team.

“Because of the number and level of successes that we have garnered over the past four years, we have established ourselves as a burgeoning dynasty and repeat victors at the county level,” Kandury said. “My hopes for next year’s team are very high.”

Subramanian said he had some advice for those debating on whether or not to join Mock Trial.

“One thing I would like to say is anyone out there who is not in Mock Trial: join,” Subramanian said. “It is an amazing experience and you will not regret it.”

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