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By Brian Hess
Staff Writer 

Central H.S. Again Sends Delegation to Pa. Mock Trial Competition


February 13, 2020

Photo provided

Members of Central High School's Mock Trial team are (from left): Front row: Hannah Josapak, Luke Knisely, Tiana Eicher, Jillian Dalansky, Isabella Dalansky, Leah DePetro and Jensen Beech. Back row: Derek Showalter, Tyson Daughenbaugh, Connor Hummel, Dylan Ceschini, Alyssa Kephart and Bobby Lape. Central won its first trial, held Jan. 28, and was in competition on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

District and regional levels of Pennsylvania High School Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Young Lawyers Division got underway in January with 285 teams from 235 high schools across the state competing.

Among those teams is Central High School, under the direction of Jann Dalansky, a fourth-grade teacher at Martinsburg Elementary School.

Central's 13-member team is comprised of:

Seniors: Tyson Daughenbaugh and Bobby Lape.

Juniors: Isabella Dalansky, Derek Showalter and Dylan Ceschini.

Sophomores: Alyssa Kephart, Jensen Beech, Leah DePetro, Hannak Josapak and Luke Knisley.

Freshmen: Jillian Dalansky, Connor Hummel and Tiana Eicher.

Central won its first trial of the statewide competition, held Jan. 28. The team's next trial was scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Blair County Courthouse in Hollidaysburg.

Central competes in Region 3 of District 3. Teams in the region include schools from Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties: Altoona Area High School (two teams), Bedford High School, Bellwood-Antis High School, Bishop McCort Catholic High School, Central Cambria High School, Central High School, Forest Hills High School, Hollidaysburg Area High School, Huntingdon Area High School, Richland High School, Tyrone Area High School (two teams) and Windber Area High School.

Pennsylvania's mock trial program, now in its 37th year, is one of the largest in the nation.

"This mock trial competition not only provides students with valuable dispute resolution, presentation, critical-thinking and teamwork skills, but it also gives them a working knowledge of our justice system," said Jennifer Menichini of Pittston, chair of the association's Young Lawyers Division. "These are all things that will serve them well, both professionally and personally, in the years to come."

During the competition, eight-member student teams are given the opportunity to argue both sides of the case in an actual courtroom before a judge. The students, who play the roles of lawyers, witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants, are assisted by teacher coaches and lawyer advisors in preparing for competition. Lawyers and community leaders serve as jurors for the mock trials. The juries determine the winners in each trial based on the teams' abilities to prepare their cases, present arguments and follow court rules.

The district and regional levels of the competition will continue throughout February and March. At the conclusion of the local competitions, 14 high school mock trial teams will advance to the PBA Statewide Mock Trial Championships, March 27 and 28, in Harrisburg.

The winning team of the state championship will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals to be held May 6-9 in Evansville, Ind.

The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the PBA, is providing funding support for the statewide competition.

Serving as co-chairs of the Mock Trial Executive Committee are former PBA Young Lawyers Division Chair Jonathan D. Koltash of Harrisburg and Menichini.

This year's hypothetical case, Addison Babbage v. Ruffed Grouse High School LLC, is a civil trial to determine whether the defendant is liable for failing to address cyberbullying at a private school.

The case was written by Jonathan A. Grode of Philadelphia, Paul W. Kaufman of Philadelphia and Koltash. All three have been involved in the drafting of these materials for the past six years.


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