On March 4, 2023, the Franklin Mock Trial Maroon Team advanced to the state competition that is set to take place on March 12, 2023, at the Multnomah County Courthouse. After a long and strenuous day at Clackamas County Courthouse competing in three trials over the course of the day, the school code for Franklin was read during the announcements for the three teams that qualified for the state competition the following week. 

The Maroon team put in hard work to get to where they are for months. They had assigned meetings every Tuesday after school as well as meetings outside of these required meetings that were organized by the students themselves, even if it was just with one other person on the team. Senior Kaela Babasin, one of Maroon’s co-assistant captains, who performed the roles of the plaintiff opening, defense cross examination, and defense closing, commented that “people on the team […] really took the time to get to know the case, out of their own individual time not even just what was required,” and that “a lot of it can be owed to friends and family and our coaches, just anybody that would listen.” Senior captain Fina Sabatini spoke on her view of the preparation, saying “it’s writing, rewriting, memorizing, realizing that what you’ve written and memorized is [bad], rewriting it.” She feels that ultimately, “it ends up culminating into something really cool.” 

Prior to the competition in Oregon City, Franklin Mock Trial was participating in other competitions in the region. In early December, the team traveled to Eugene for the annual Duck Pond competition at the University of Oregon (UO). Franklin Maroon placed third at this competition, celebrating by posing with UO’s duck mascot and getting a tour of the college. 

The regional competition was originally set to take place on Feb. 25, 2023, but due to extreme weather conditions it was postponed a week. Babasin discussed how this delay relieved them because “[they got] a whole extra week to prepare.” To really make the most of the delay, Babasin would listen to a recording of their speeches in their headphones as they fell asleep, in addition to constantly writing and practicing. Despite the obvious benefits, a decent number of team members for another Franklin team, the Grey Team, were unable to make it due to the date change. Another reason that some team members expressed being upset was due to the limited preparation time for state they were given after regionals; originally, the team was supposed to have two weeks to prepare, but they ended up with only one. Despite the shortening of their preparation time, teacher and coach Brian Halberg said that “the team did an absolutely fantastic job. I’ve no doubt they’re going to be ready for [the state competition].”

One of the highlights of the competition were the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards that some team members were given. In mock trial, MVP awards are given to two people on a team after every round, one to the MVP attorney and one to the MVP witness; a team’s opponents are the ones who decide whom to grant the awards to. Sabatini explained the MVP process more in-depth, saying that “it’s the person who exhibits the most sportsmanship and overall good qualities.” Halberg said that he believes “the MVP award is one of the most wonderful things about the mock trial competition, having students give the awards themselves to the opponents.” Earning one of these awards signifies and acknowledges a student’s hard work and dedication. Halberg collects college acceptance letters that his students receive, as well as MVP awards from competitions. He expressed his pride in the students that were given the MVP award on the Maroon Team, saying “[he] would like to commend all of the students who got an MVP award during this competition, especially Bella [Walker] who got three for three in all of her battles and was garnered recognition from three different schools for her hard work.” Babasin and sophomore Sydney Smith were other winners of the award as attorneys; Walker received the award as a witness.

This competition marks the first time Franklin Mock Trial has advanced to the state level. This means that two monumental things will have happened in the law program this year. The first and most obvious is that Franklin will be competing against schools from all over the state at the state competition, including Grant HS, Lincoln HS, Jesuit HS and St. Mary’s Academy. The second is that Franklin will finally see Mr. Halberg in his celebratory dinosaur costume he promised to wear as soon as a mock trial team made state. 

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