Order in the court



Cascade High School has proudly fielded the only high school mock trial team in the county for more than a decade.  And now, all the work has paid off.

The Cadets recently competed in the Indiana Bar Foundation’s regional mock trial competition as they have done since 2011.  Over the years, teams have had some success, advancing to the state competition a few times.  But this year is different.

For the first time, a CHS team has been crowned the champion of the Indianapolis regional competition.  

More than 20 teams entered the competition on Saturday, February 26.  Due to COVID restrictions, the competition was held in a virtual format for the second year in a row.

This competition is open to high schools across the state.  Teams are made up of “attorneys” and “witnesses” who learn the same case before competing in a courtroom setting.

The fictional cases are either criminal or civil.  Teams prepare both a prosecution and a defense and present each side during different rounds of the competition.  

The witnesses prepare a “character” as they memorize the details of the case.  To be successful, witnesses must bring a level of credibility and create a certain personality for their role.

Those taking on the role of an attorney have a different challenge.  These students must learn legal terminology and strategies, such as when and how to object, how to argue an objection, and how to get the information from witnesses to benefit the case.

Not only did the Cadet team, “Brace Yourself,” win the regional championship, two of the team members received high honors.

Seniors Rachel Mazzio and Ryan Junod were awarded best attorney and best witness respectively.  Both students, who have been members of the team for three years, were awarded these honors for all three of their rounds.

  The team is coached by retired United States Air Force Judge Advocate General, Maggie Weatherman, who has been a parent and school board member in the Mill Creek Corporation.  According to Weatherman, “No other school program will build confidence like mock trial.  It enhances speech and critical thinking, self esteem, and changes the way teens view things.”

Weatherman goes on to talk about how the longevity of this program has encouraged students to follow legal pathways at the collegiate level.

“We have had kids in our mock program who have graduated law school, kids currently in law school, and working in law offices as researchers and clerks,” she said.

One such student has come back to CHS to continue to help with the mock teams.  2019 Cascade graduate Sara Berge is currently a student at I.U.P.U.I., where she is completing an accelerated program and was recently admitted to the McKinney School of Law.  Berge has been helping with the Cascade teams for two years in addition to her studies.  She is also a member of the I.U.P.U.I. mock trial team.

“Sara is an amazing example of why this type of academic club is so important at the high school level.  She got to experience preparing for trial and being in the courtroom, which led her to wanting to pursue it as a career,” said Weatherman.

This year, the team put in countless hours of work preparing for trial, and the work paid off.  In addition to the award winning performances, several of the team members also garnered perfect scores in one or more rounds.

The team competes in the state competition this Saturday and Sunday.  Weatherman is elated that this team, and the program, have come to this level of success.

“It took 11 years, but our little, rural school won the toughest mock trial regional competition in Indiana, beating some of the top schools in the state.  The hard work these kids have put in is only rivaled by the pride everyone should have for them.”