Crescenta Valley High School came in second place to James Monroe High School during the final round of the Los Angeles County mock trial competition held among 84 high schools.
The defeat came after Crescenta Valley High took on the role of the prosecution during a three-hour mock trial Wednesday night at a downtown Los Angeles courthouse. The case: proving who was driving a car that hit a bicyclist.
Monroe High is a magnet school in North Hills that specializes in law and government and has garnered media attention before for twice competing in mock trial finals in the past four years.
For Crescenta Valley, this year’s competition meant the first time any mock trial team at the school had surpassed the quarter finals.
Sierra Vasquez, the club’s advisor and math teacher at Crescenta Valley, said neither team could anticipate the winner before it was announced.
The team held hands when the announcement came, congratulated Monroe High, and then cheered the loudest for themselves.
“To be second out of 84 is not a loser,” Vasquez said.
Wednesday marked the end of months of practice after school and on Saturdays, in addition to many of the other sports, band or drama activities the students have on their plates.
William Monterroso, whose son played a witness in the case this week, has helped coach the team for the last three years using his experience as a criminal defense attorney for Los Angeles County’s alternate public defender’s office.
“I realized the CV program was nonexistent as far as having an attorney coaching them,” he said of joining three years ago. “The kids at that time were meeting at their homes and they would meet in the hallways.”
This year, volunteer attorneys Michael Simmirin and Patti Choi also coached the team.
Monterroso always emphasized to the team that the competition wasn’t about winning.
“It’s about personal growth and self-discovery,” he said. “That is the secret. Then it becomes fun for them. It becomes interesting."
-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan