Memorial’s mock trial trail blazers


Edmond Memorial students make waves at nationals.

Bridget Nye, Managing Editor

At Edmond Memorial High School (EMHS), there is a club or organization for everyone. Whether students enjoy learning about a different language, a skill for their future, or want to explore a new hobby they can find at EMHS. One extracurricular that has been making waves lately is Memorial’s Youth and Government (YAG). 

YAG is an after school activity that is sponsored by the Young Men’s Christian Association of Oklahoma. It is centered around teaching students leadership skills and how to act in a court of law or government setting. There are two divisions that Memorial takes part in, which are the Legislative and the Judicial branches. The Legislative branch explains how laws work with the government while the Judicial branch shows how the court system operates. 

“During the first YAG meeting, everyone was so friendly and so passionate that I decided to come back for  training,” sophomore Oliva Romanson said. “At the training, I did try out the Legislative branch. It just wasn’t my jam but during my first mock trial ‘class’ I was hooked.”

 No matter which branch one prefers, students work on their projects all year long. Between writing their own laws and competing in civil or criminal court, there’s always something to improve on. The students from EMHS prepped for months leading to the event. 

“YAG attends two preparatory events during the school year before the state conference,” advisor Greg Oppel said. “During COVID-19, statewide training on Zoom began with breakout rooms and they were so productive for mentoring they have continued. The mock trial team met weekly for over a month in preparation for state.”

After competing at the state level for the first time, the Bulldogs who are involved with the Judicial branch, qualified for the national competition. The students were so amazed to see that their hard work had earned them the top spot. 

“To be completely honest, I was over the moon at the time that we found out,” senior Captain Tyler Lyons said. “I was beaming with pride and with a feeling of accomplishment coaching a team to National Judicial Competition (NJC), however, my team deserves the largest props. They are the ones that earned the NJC spot and I just pointed them in the right direction.”

Over the summer, the group met twice a week to discuss the case. They competed in a civil court and were only given the prompt for the national competition after the state conference. They were in a crunch for time but they worked harder than ever before.

 “There were a lot of Zoom practices due to summer vacation but that is just a factor of working over the summer,” Romanson said. “None of us knew what to expect from this competition so we tried our hardest to prepare our cases to the best of our ability. Based on our style of working the case, I would have to say that we tried to prepare every angle.”

There were a few problems that arose while preparing for nationals. Due to seniors graduating and heading off to college, as well as other unforeseen circumstances, the team was a few members short. The team had to improvise and reach out to fellow EMHS students to fulfill the missing rolls. 

During the first week of August, the mock trial team loaded up and headed to Minneapolis, Minn. to compete. While attending nationals, the team attended four trials to show their skills based on the assigned case. They met fellow YAG students from all over the country. It was a new experience for the whole team. 

“NJC takes the top three teams of each state which creates a very competitive environment,” Lyons said. “NJC also has a lot of prep work that goes into the contest beforehand, such as writing a case, developing the witnesses, and many things that are done in the classroom or courtroom. It was completely different from most other NJC’s.”

Overall the team was able to explore their interests in law and grow as leaders. They will be able to take what they learned to improve even more on their skills for this upcoming year. Watch out for the mock trial trailblazers at the next competition.

Contact Bridget Nye at [email protected]