Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School of South Hadley won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2012 Mock Trial State Championship, advancing to the national competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico in May.
After the nearly three-hour mock trial, Pioneer Valley was victorious over Marshfield High School by a 2-1 vote. A panel of three Massachusetts judges selected the winner; District Court Justice Barbara Savitt Pearson served as the presiding judge, while Superior Court Associate Justice John T. Lu and Superior Court Associate Justice Janet Kenton-Walker assisted.
"You are invested, you are bright, and you give us great confidence as leaders in our future," said Pearson addressing the competitors. "You should be so proud of yourselves."
The competition took place in the historic Great Hall in Boston's Faneuil Hall before hundreds of spectators ranging from friends, family, and students to legal professionals.
Pioneer Valley represented the plaintiff, Alex Soltin, a Huffington Falls high school junior who was the victim of bullying and suffered a mental breakdown. The defendant in the civil trial was Allen Sway, a teacher at Baird Academy. Marshfield represented Sway, charged with negligence for failing to properly report the bullying suffered by Soltin.
"Both teams were just superb," said Kenton-Walker. "It's nice to have young people so actively engaged in the judiciary."
Pioneer Valley won not only the highest score but also won the case, convincing the majority of the judges that the plaintiff was liable.
A donation for $2,500 from the MBA's philanthropic partner, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, was made to help fund Pioneer Valley's trip to nationals.