The mock trial team from Ward Melville High School in East Setauket took the top spot in this year’s Long Island Mentor Moot Court Competition.
The foursome of Jake DePinto, Michael Lu, Jay Sangwan and Andi Sauer defeated a team from Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead — the Nassau County victor — in the finals.
They had bested William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach to become the Suffolk winners before facing off against Sacred Heart.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
One female and one male student from each Suffolk 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: Sabrina Tobin and Derek Haave, Amityville; Kate Going and Frank Vano, Babylon; Amy Hoeffner and Jack Pirkl, Bay Shore; Margaret Ross and Ryan Lawrence, Bayport-Blue Point; Alexandra Reyes and Michael Zhu, Brentwood; Alexandrea Harriott and Jodhel Destina, Central Islip; Stephanie Miller and Logan Tobias, Commack; Victoria O’Toole and Branden McCormick, Connetquot; Samantha Sanchez and Osazuwa Eghafona, Copiague; Bianca Punger and Joshua Pismeny, Deer Park; Jenna Anderson and Evan Mauner, East Islip; Emily Goetz and Connor Rossi, Elwood-John H. Glenn; Megan Lulley and Matthew Hogan, Half Hollow Hills East; Arianna Pappas and Christopher Strasser, Half Hollow Hills West; Katina Simpson and Jay Best, Harborfields; Jade Dyer-Kennedy and Jacob Hug, Hauppauge; Nicole Abbondandelo and Natale Amato, Huntington; Kayla Multer and Vincent Capolongo, Islip; Katie Mullady and Eoghan McGovern, Kings Park; Kayla Durnin and Tom Renick, Lindenhurst; Abigail Guzman and PJ Tchinnis, North Babylon; Julia Fenton and Michael Robertson, Northport; Mackenzie Murphy and Ryan Coope, Sachem East; Caitlyn Humann and Daniel LaRosa, Sachem North; Devin Dolan and Eric Suydam, Sayville; Katelyn McGuigan and Matt Cohen, Smithtown East; Peri Allen and Tim Nagosky, Smithtown West; Elizabeth DellaRocca and Matthew Lavin, St. John the Baptist; Maelyn Latko and Thomas DeGaetano, Walt Whitman; Erin Reahl and Eric Donahue, West Babylon; and Rosa Lettieri and Jake Guercio, West Islip.