Valencia High School Mock Trial ends season with a strong showing

Judge gavel.

The Valencia Mock Trial team achieved their greatest success in the history of the program despite graduating the majority of their team last year. The Tigers overcame their lack of experience and the Zoom trial environment to a record of 6-1 and a spot in the Orange County championship round versus the perennial powerhouse University High School.

The Tigers were led by seniors Cassidy Lee, Dylan Callaway, Aqil Naeem, and Caroline Ives. This core group has been on Mock Trial teams for 5-6 years together starting at Kraemer Middle School. Having this solid core proved to be helpful as they were able to fill in the gaps for the new students who had no idea what Mock Trial is about.
This year’s case featured a prominent YouTube personality and a theft complete with experts aptly portrayed by newcomer, Camille Ives (10), detailing how group think and propaganda caused people to commit the alleged crimes. The Defense Team consistently started strong with Aqil Naeem (12) arguing a defense motion before the judge.

Valencia’s opening statements, from Steven Segawa (10) and Sean Joo (11) kicked off the trial by laying out the facts and providing a roadmap for the judge and scorers. Both served the team well and set things up for the rest of the team. According to teacher coach, Joy Millam, Cassidy Lee (12) was an absolute rock star for the Tigers. She was our lead attorney and anchored the team with her stellar closing statement that always flipped the opponents theme and left a lasting impression on the scorers. She regularly scored 10’s and was unstoppable this year. She was honored by the scorers and opponents every time she competed for the defense.

Another senior, Dylan Callaway, competed for both the Prosecution and Defense teams this year. Dylan is exceptionally adept as a witness; he manages to inhabit his character fully. He charmed scorers and observers alike. He was nominated for awards multiple times this season. He also was a Prosecuting attorney and provided the team with an excellent Opening Statement.

The team was further strengthened by students Araceli Jimenez (9), Erica Tobing (9), Daeuni Lee (9), and Emma Le (11). Each trial these rookies showed up and provided the team with rock-solid performances. Witnesses were often the difference between winning and losing. They frequently outperformed opponents by double digits. In this year’s competition, wins and losses were by razor thin margins. Additionally, Raymond Chen (10) and Matthew Yun (9) took on multiple roles and helped the team immeasurably with their willingness to take on any role the coaches deemed necessary to help the team win.

This season, like this past year, has been surreal, but the Tigers kept pushing through the barriers and never stopped working toward their shared goal of consistently performing at a high level. According to Joy: “This was supposed to be our “rebuilding year,” it was absolutely thrilling to watch our students exceed expectations and get to the championship round. I love that the rookies got to see what it takes to succeed and now can take this experience and the many lessons and create an even stronger team in the future. We are so proud of each and every one of our team members. We will never forget this amazing season.”

The Tigers were supported and coached by teachers Megan Mathieson, Joy Millam, and Attorney Coach Vanessa Huey-Oyama. The Valencia administration and staff were incredibly supportive giving students kudos and viewing trials throughout the season. Way to go, Tigers!

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