Sacred Heart Academy mock trial team members, left to right:...

Sacred Heart Academy mock trial team members, left to right: Kaitlyn Cox, Josette Peacock, Sara Campbell and Keara St. Fort with Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown and District Judge Joseph F. Bianco. Credit: Sacred Heart Academy

Mock trial teams from Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead and Ward Melville High School in East Setauket placed first in Nassau and Suffolk counties, respectively, in this year’s Long Island Mentor Moot Court Competition.

Ward Melville’s team went on to take the top spot overall.

The competition attracted about 40 teams, challenging the students to organize and present arguments about an imaginary lawsuit with real-life judges questioning them as they would in appellate court proceedings. The competition’s final rounds took place at the Suffolk County Courthouse in Central Islip.

This year’s topics explored whether a fictional high school violated rights to free speech by demanding that a student remove an online post criticizing its principal or face suspension, and whether the school could permissibly search a messenger function on a school-issued piece of technology when it sought to stop the spread of drugs.

“I’m very proud of my team,” Sacred Heart’s team moderator Alison Mertz said. “They took great leadership in going over the case and have great skill in critical thinking and the ability to speak clearly.”

Sacred Heart’s team — Sara Campbell, Kaitlyn Cox, Josette Peacock and Keara St. Fort — defeated a team from Massapequa High School in the competition’s semifinal round to take the top spot in Nassau. In addition, Peacock was named the competition’s Best Oralist.

Ward Melville’s team — Jake DePinto, Michael Lu, Jay Sangwan and Andi Sauer — defeated a team from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach to win the top spot in Suffolk before beating Sacred Heart in the finals.

“I am proud of the zealous advocacy shown by these students,” said Doug Elliot, Ward Melville’s team coach. “They are in the process of becoming engaged citizens at a very young age, and I am confident they will all make meaningful contributions to their communities going forward.”


Zone Awards

One female and one male student from each Nassau County high school have received a Zone Award from the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance based on their academic performance, leadership and physical prowess.

Local winners and their high schools were: Alexandra Docyk and Luke Caliendo, Carle Place; Elizabeth Silverman and Carlo Ritaccio, W. Tresper Clarke; Caileigh Gulotta and Christian Gulotta, Cold Spring Harbor; Sara Polansky and Nickolas Pavon, East Meadow; Tatiana Guevara and Joseph Grella, Glen Cove; Jessica Rothstein and Kevin Li, Great Neck North; Glory Chung and Gabe Lefkowitz, Great Neck South; Patricia Limperopoulos and Anthony Vitale, Herricks; Caroline Ramos and Antonio Aguilar, Hicksville; Katharyn Fatehi and Jay Chen, Jericho; Julia Orski and Thomas Eletto, Locust Valley; Sarah Mills and Logan Hyde, Manhasset; Emily McGuire and Flabio Anjo, Mineola; MacKenzie Griffin and Thomas Messina, New Hyde Park; Kristen Reid and Brendan Biliski, North Shore; Lindsey Tiberia and Keith Cassar, Oyster Bay; Juliana Keenan and Frank Buchler, Plainedge; Angelina Kim and Nicholas DeChiaro, Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK; Natalia Krol and Michael Bruck, Roslyn; Alice De Marchi and Dylan Spilko, Paul D. Schreiber; Jacquelin Tang and Matthew Conforti, Syosset; Mandy Wagnac and Hector Salinas Guevara, Westbury; and Megan Klein and Jacob Chimerine, The Wheatley School.

Daniella Cucci of Our Lady of Mercy Academy also was among the award-winners.

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