Teams from Navarre High School, Pace High School, Pensacola High School, Tate High School and Walton High School participated in two trials each during the Jan. 28 Inaugural Argo Invitational High School Mock Trial hosted by the University of West Florida College of Education and Professional Studies.
Navarre High won Best Overall Team and two Santa Rosa County District Schools’ students received top nods. Noah Haack of Navarre High School, who served as the school’s team captain, was named Best Prosecution Attorney and Graham Heisel of Pace High won Best Defense Attorney.
Fifteen area legal professionals served as volunteer judges and UWF legal studies students were on hand to provide assistance to the high school competitors.
“As a graduate of the UWF Legal Studies Program, it was an absolute honor to serve as a judge for the high school mock trial tournament,” said Kia M. Goldsmith, attorney at Clark Partington. “I knew as early as the ninth grade that I wanted to become an attorney and seeing that same passion in today’s youth was a priceless experience. The benefits of this tournament to young legal professionals are immeasurable.”
Awards for outstanding performance were conferred as follows:
- Navarre High School, Best Overall Team
- Noah Haack, Navarre High School, Best Prosecution Attorney Award
- Graham Heisel, Pace High School, Best Defense Attorney
- Sophie Sarazin, Pensacola High School, Best Prosecution Witness
- Aisling Fracasso, Walton High School, Best Defense Witness
“Mock Trial is a program that I’ve been passionate about ever since my coach, Kelly Krostag, first introduced me to it in high school over a decade ago,” said Austin Perry, social studies teacher and mock trial coach for Navarre High School. “This is our sixth year competing in the 1st judicial circuit, and in that time we’ve been able to build a robust program that has given our students opportunities to perform and compete in front of state, federal, and even one retired state supreme court judge. These opportunities have opened up avenues for our students to get hands-on experience in the legal system and prepared them for future careers in the legal field.”
Each year, high school mock trial teams compete in the statewide Florida High School Mock Trial Competition. Counties hold competitions to advance teams to the circuit level and one team from each judicial circuit advances to represent the circuit at the state competition.
“UWF’s Argo Invitational is the first tournament in Northwest Florida that gives high schools teams a chance to hone their skills before the circuit competition,” said Dr. Charlie Penrod, UWF associate professor of legal studies. “It provides students the opportunity to practice their public speaking skills in a courtroom setting and receive important feedback they can then use to improve their case for the circuit competition.” The Argo Invitational High School Mock Trial Tournament was sponsored by Clark Partington Attorneys at Law. For more information about UWF’s legal studies program, visit uwf.edu/legalstudies.