Spencer Middle School (SMS) Mock Trial just wrapped up its season with Regionals at Central Lyon Middle School in Rock Rapids where 15 teams from area schools competed. In his third year of coaching Mock Trial, Grant Muilenburg was pleased with the performance of the teams from SMS.
With 39 seventh and eighth grade participants, and only 3 veterans with experience from the previous year, mock trial was a large undertaking for Muilenburg, but he was up for the challenge. “We spend a lot of our season working on understanding the witness statements; how we can use them for our side, how we can use them against the other side, how to word questions correctly for direct and cross examinations, and how to get our actors to give the information we want them to share. After that, it's just a matter of teaching processes, objections and rehearsing,” said Muilenburg.
Mock trial offers more than just preparing for Regionals. Muilenburg is in awe thinking about and watching what his mock trial students gain. “From correctly refreshing recollection during a trial to public speaking in general, I think my best experiences consist of teaching the kids the tools to understand the case, then watching the reasoning and creative ways they come up with to fight it.” Muilenburg went on to say, “It is an amazing program that I wish my school had when I was a student. It takes a ton of critical thinking, some creativity, some drama, some teamwork, some public speaking, and rolls it all into a fun competition for the kids. It is also a must-do for anyone even thinking about a career in law one day.”
To put the finishing touches on the case and practice in preparation for Regionals, Muilenburg enlisted the help of attorney-coach, Steven Postolka, who helped for the second half of the season. As Muilenburg said, “It doesn't get more real-life than that,” in response to having an attorney coach. Spencer was able to have three of the four teams compete at Regionals, and Muilenburg said that since he started, Spencer teams are now contenders, rather than the new team on the block.