On Thursday, March 30th, at PA Leadership’s Advanced Ideas Center (AIC) in West Chester, 4 middle school mock trial teams met and competed in the annual Friendship Tournament. The University Scholars middle school team, coached by Mr. Pat Parris, tied for second place at the tournament.

Great Valley Middle School, located in Malvern PA brought a total of 36 gifted 7th and 8th grade students to compete at the tournament, under the leadership of coach Mrs. Heather McGovern. The Greater Valley students were split into 3 teams, with the USP middle school team making 4 teams total competing in the tournament. Each team was given a nickname to compete under. The University Scholars team was known as the “Army,” Great Valley team 1 was known as the “Navy,” Great Valley team 2 was known as the “Air Force,” and Great Valley team 3 was known as the “Marines.” Coming in 4th place was the Marines with 1 win and 3 losses. Tying for 2nd place with 2 wins and 2 losses was the “Army” and the “Navy”. The “Air force” took 1st place with 3 wins and 2 losses.

Three attorneys, who are also parents of some of the students, served as judges for the trials. The USP high school mock trial team also helped out: Gaea Lawton, Hannah Phillips, Christopher “C.J.” Stiles, Asher Donohue, and Andrew “Jake” Adams served as judges in two trials and as jury members for all trials held at the tournament, along with parent volunteers. “It really was a community event with students from both middle and high school, parents, and teachers all working together to pull it off,” said USP Principal and high school mock trial coach Mr. Chris Stiles.

The USP middle school team has 11 members, ranging in grades 6-8. This was Mr. Parris’ first year leading the middle school mock trial team and running the event and according to Mr. Stiles, “he did a marvelous job!”

This was USP’s fourth annual “Mock Trial Friendship Tournament” with Great Valley Middle School Gifted; they are the only schools in Pennsylvania who hold these competitions at the middle school level. Although this was the last middle school mock trail meet for the year, they are very excited for next year, as the Owen J. Roberts School District in Pottstown had sent two of their gifted teachers to observe the tournament, with the hope that they might join the competition with their own teams next year!

Mr. Stiles shared why he thinks it so important for the high school team to be involved and help run the middle school tournament, explaining that when his high school team attends a tournament at a college or university, it is their law or pre-law students who run that event. There is teaching and learning going on from each side, whether you are a student competing in the tournament or a student proctoring the tournament, each role is a learning experience. “It’s a great example of our students fulfilling the “leadership” part of our school’s name. I am so proud of them,” said Mr. Stiles

Congratulations to all the students in both middle and high school from USP and Great Valley Middle School Gifted on all of their hard work with this tournament! A special thanks to Mr. Parris, Mr. Stiles, and all the parents who volunteered their valuable time!

Header image: The Friendship Tournament in action. Image below: the University Scholars Middle School Mock Trial Team with coach, Mr. Pat Parris