Crescenta Valley High School has advanced to the semi-finals of a mock trial competition that began with 84 high schools in Los Angeles County in early November.

The 20 students on Crescenta Valley’s team have advanced to beat out 80 other schools to reach the final four, and will compete against three other unidentified schools in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Dec. 3.

The case? A car accident in which texting may have been involved. During the mock trials, the students act as prosecutors or defense attorneys.

“The question is, who was driving the car?” said Sierra Vasquez, a Crescenta Valley math teacher who advises the club.

Vasquez has led mock trial teams at Crescenta Valley for the past nine years and has never seen any team come this far in competition.

Three attorneys have also volunteered to coach the students in courtroom procedures.

Since the start of school in August, the team has met several times each week during lunch or after school to review the case.

Vasquez said she has seen immense improvement in her team’s critical thinking skills and ability think on their feet.

She was overwhelmed with her team’s success.

“It literally is almost going to bring a tear to my eye,” she said. “It’s so awesome to see their hard work just pay off.”

If Crescenta Valley advances, they could compete in a statewide mock trial competition in March.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan