See that blemish? That painful pimple? The big red zit?!
That's a result of stress that built up from October through March. And it was worth it.
I decided a school named Freedom Academy would do well to add a little learning about the legal system that seeks to protect our American freedoms. So I started a competitive Mock Trial team for the 7th and 8th graders.
Not a lot of people have heard of mock trial. Basically, the students prepare to present a court case. We had a bailiff, witnesses and attorneys. They learn court procedures and the application of law in a courtroom setting. Then they compete against other teams from schools around the state who have prepared the opposing side of the same court case. Each team competes at least twice: once as prosecution and once as defense. While in the trial, the students don't get any help from their coaches. Though they've practiced their questions and answers, it always comes down to thinking on their feet, raising and answering objections, and interacting with the judges (who are real-life attorneys and judges).
When I took on this project, I figured I'd get a teacher and an attorney or two in place as coaches. Then all I'd have to do is decorate the team members' lockers and drive them to competitions. Not so! It turns out that attorneys are busy people and our teacher coach had other obligations during the first half of each after-school practice as well. So I helped the kids outline their side of the case, edited the attorneys' questions, coached the witnesses in acting, and drilled the opening and closing statements. It was a lot of fun, a lot of time, and a lot of stress.
But like I said, it was worth it! I spent most of those hours with my own #1 (On the far right in the picture above.) In the end, our students won both their first two competitions and went on to narrowly lose at the state quarter-final round. They did great for their first year. And #1 was named the best attorney on our team at each competition, which was no surprise to me considering her proclivity for arguing!
This was the first time I've ever coached any competitive group. Last week when I was returning books at the library, one of the team members saw me and hurried over to say hi. We talked about her plans for spring break, and then she left with her family. It was weird and fun to feel her gratitude and camaraderie disguised in her thinly veiled excitement at seeing me outside the school setting. Next year will be good.