- JET Middle
- JET Middle
Defending State Champion J-E-T Middle School Mock Trial Team Preparing for State Finals After Winning Third Consecutive Regional Crown
Johnston, SC – Following the celebration of a state championship season during the 2022-2023 school year, it appeared as though the Johnston-Edgefield-Trenton (J-E-T) Middle School Mock Trial Team would be in for a significant rebuild this competition season.
However, a talented group of newcomers joined the team and quickly found their competitive legs en route to the team capturing its third consecutive mock trial regional title to advance to this weekend’s state finals in Columbia, South Carolina.
The team’s attorney coach, Blair Massey, says she has been impressed with the talent and work ethic of this year’s team. While they are young, they have fully embraced competition.
“This is a very young team,” stated Massey. “We only have two eighth graders and two seventh graders on this entire team. The majority of them are sixth graders. It’s exciting to start fresh with a new group of students and see how they’ve been able to handle the stresses of learning their individual parts and how quickly they can catch onto new concepts.”
“It’s a really smart group of kids,” she added. “It’s just a really bright group. We lost a ton of people from our state championship, and I was concerned about how this team would do and if it would be a rebuilding year, but this team has really impressed me. From the start, they jumped out and were very curious about learning all the components of mock trial. They’ve done a great job.”
THE COURT CASE
This year’s fictional court case – developed by the S.C. Bar Association, which sponsors the annual mock trial competition – involves Forrester Company Flight X1027 that took off from Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in April 2021 and crashed shortly after takeoff, claiming the lives of 58 people. The widow of the plane’s pilot is the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“The question the students have to argue is who was responsible for that crash?” commented Massey. “Was it the pilot? Or was it the company that built the plane and installed the software system that may or may not have been responsible for the crash? Both sides have good arguments, and it’s a heavy case and heavy subject this year, and they’ve done a good job tackling it with a maturity far beyond their years.”
Joining attorney coach Blair Massey this season are teacher coaches Ruth Bledsoe, Gloria Jackson, Dr. Patricia Moseley and witness coach Steven McKinney.
J-E-T Middle School Mock Trial team members include students Nyeema Bruton, Rebecca Carpenter, Lucy Cockrell, Colbie Hodson, Chase Lawton, Ashlyn Legrand, Kinsley Logue, Truman Massey, Michaela Owen, Gillian O’Gorman, Lindy O’Sullivan, Miriell Palma and Olivia Stevens.
Massey says winning a regional championship for a third consecutive year has boosted the team’s confidence heading into this weekend’s state finals, being hosted by the Richland County Central Court on Friday, December 1, 2023, and Saturday, December 2, 2023.
“It’s really boosted everyone’s confidence, not just the new members but the seventh and eighth graders,” stated Massey. “It gave them insight that they could actually win this thing. They aren’t just here to learn and have a great team next year. It really motivated them that if they did this well at regionals, they could make a run at the state title again this year as well. We currently have the trophy, and we would really like to keep it here at J-E-T Middle School a little longer."
“The students are really working hard and doing a great job,” added Dr. Mosley.
One of the team’s two eighth graders is Michaela Owen. She also has dual roles as an attorney for the defense and a witness for the plaintiff.
“Everybody has put in the work, and everything has been great,” stated Michaela. “Being an attorney is really fun because you get to interact more with the other team and cross-examine their witnesses, memorize objections and re-enact a real court case as a real lawyer. This group has been really fun.”
Rebecca Carpenter is a seventh grader and one of the team’s members who return from last season’s state championship team. Last season, as a sixth grader, she was a witness. This season, she has dual roles as an attorney and witness.
“It means a lot to win regionals,” Rebecca stated. “We just have to keep on working at it and not get too confident. We have to keep on going if we want to win the state championship. It’s going to take a lot more work and effort and memorization, but I have confidence in our team.”
Rebecca credits the team's coaches for the fast start to the season.
“Our coaches have really helped us a lot,” commented Rebecca. “Everything they’ve done to help us work together has been great. It’s a lot of work to put in, and they’ve made things a lot easier."
One of the team’s newest leaders is Colbie Hodson, a sixth grader. She has an extremely important role as the case’s plaintiff, the wife of the pilot of Forrester Company Flight X1027.
“I really didn’t know anything about court cases, but I’ve learned so much,” stated Colbie. “The more I’ve learned, the more comfortable I have been, and I’ve gotten the hang of it. Getting to know everyone on the team and collaborating has been really fun.”
Being a member of the mock trial team has also helped Colbie overcome some pretty significant personal challenges to actually be recognized by the judges at regionals as the most effective of the six witnesses in the third round of the competition.
“I used to stutter, and I was not able to remember things, but being on this team has really helped me a lot,” commented Colbie. “At first, I just couldn’t get the memorization and now that’s one of the things I’m best at.”