Proving that determination, commitment, and a “never give up” attitude is integral to success, a relative new-comer to mock trial competition, Edinburg’s Robert Vela High School Mock Trial team out- motioned and out-objected their way to a first place finish in the Annual Region One ESC Mock Trial Competition.

Last year, the Vela High School team finished third in the competition. Also new to Mock Trial competition Sharyland’s Pioneer High School, in only their second year of participation in the annual event, took home second place honors in the annual event. Both teams will represent the region at the State Mock Trial Competition to be held on March 2-4, in Dallas, Texas. Edinburg High School took home a third place finish.

Eighteen teams, representing high schools across the region, participated in this year’s competition held on January 16, 2016, at the Hidalgo County Courthouse; the final competition took place on January 18, 2016.

Members of the first place Edinburg Vela High School Team included Taehoon Ahn, Marco Avila, Giliana Canales, Adrian Cruz, Sierra Garcia, Taylor Gomez, Amy Marr, Anna Pena, Cynthia Perez, and Madilyn Trevino. The team was coached by Vanessa Villarreal.

Members of the second place Pioneer High School Mock Trial Team are Kayla Barrios, Heriberto Andres Galvan, Emily Guerrero, Samuel Luke Jones, Edgar Lozano, Jazmin Molina, Rebecca L. Salazar, Haley Steele, Tyler Trigg, and Rey Jesus Villalobos. The team was coached by Vanessa Mora.

In addition to bragging rights, teams will receive scholarship checks donated by the Hidalgo County Bar Association. The Vela High School Mock Trial Team will receive a $1,500 scholarship check; Pioneer High School Team will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship, and third place team, Edinburg High School will be awarded a $500 scholarship. Judges also selected individual honors including “Best Advocate” recognition to Giliana Canales from Vela High School and “Best Witness” commendations to Heriberto Andres Galvan from Pioneer High School.

“Students and coaches work extensive hours studying and preparing for this competition,” says Jose J. Saenz, Region One ESC Mock Trial Coordinator. “These dedicated teams work after school, weekends and sometimes even during their school breaks to perfect their case.”

In addition to working with their school Mock Trial Team Coach, students also get advice and pointers from practicing attorneys who share their expertise with students.

“The Texas High School Mock Trial competition is a statewide extracurricular program whose primary purpose is to increase students’ understanding of the judicial system by providing a first hand experience in court,” Saenz said.

“The competition requires students to address legal issues, legal procedures, reasoning skills in a 'real life' setting and productive and creative thinking.”

By participating in the Mock Trial competition students prepare the role of witnesses and attorneys and employ legal strategies for the hypothetical case assigned to all teams.