Unicoi County High School’s mock trial team was invited to participated in the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition.

“They do just a fantastic job of critical thinking, writing, presenting, doing public speaking,” said Lois Shults-Davis, the team’s attorney coach. “They just do a great job and I’m real proud of the kids.”

Last year, the team participated in a regional competition in Knoxville just before the state competition was cancelled due to COVID-19. This year, the state competition came back, but with some changes.

The mock trial team competed in the Grand Division Championship against other teams from Eastern Tennessee. Twenty-six teamsfrom Eastern Tennesseecompeted, and only three were chosen to advance to the state competition. Unicoi County High School was not one of them.

“So not having qualified, they thought their season was over,” said Shults-Davis. “Well, suddenly we get an invitation to be a part of the state championship. So that was a very, very exciting thing.”

Space for two more teams to compete was made, and Unicoi County’s mock trial team was invited to take one of those spots.

Though the mock trial team didn’t advance to the championship round of the state competition, the team competed well.

“Their individual scores were very high,” said Shults-Davis.

Mairead O’Hare took home second place as the best plaintiff witness, and Trenton White took home third place for best advocate for the prosecution. Ashleigh Edwards won the team MVP award. Edwards also won third place as the best defense attorney in the East Grand Division during the Grand Division Competition.

Alongside competing, the mock trial team also holds a Relay for Life event every year. The team sells tickets and puts on a mock trial for spectators. Attendees can even purchase an enhanced ticket to allow them to sit on the jury.

“It’s harder this year because it had to be virtual, but they still raised almost $500,” said Shults-Davis.

Though the pandemic has made the mock trial team’s season a little unconventional, Shults-Davis says the team has made the best of it.

“I am just so proud of our kids,” said Shults-Davis. “That they have taken whatever difficulty presented itself and figured out a way to do it. ”