Area students tackle mock trial camp

Mirror photo by Russ O’Reilly / Tyrone Area High School student Mario Grugan, 15, checks in for mock trial camp at Juniata College.

HUNTINGDON — This isn’t your typical summer sports camp. Teens checked in for camp Wednesday and were issued their pads — not shoulder pads but legal pads.

Juniata College’s first annual three-day mock trial camp was sold out. Students in high school mock trial teams from Michigan, Virginia and Maryland, as well as students from Blair County, filled 20 total slots to form two teams who will go head to head in a trial.

During the three-day camp, students will be immersed in roles in a fictional civil lawsuit.

The case involves a late night TV show tragedy. The host welcomed an animal caretaker whose chimpanzee runs off and kills a writer of the show. The show producers file a lawsuit against the caretaker, who files a countersuit. There’s also the grieving widow of the writer.

Local students attending include Altoona Area’s Vydalia Weatherly, Tyrone Area’s Mario Grugan and Lexe Speck of Bedford Area.

Weatherly is the captain of her school’s mock trial team.

“I want to bring back to the team some lessons I learned here,” she said.

Grugan, 15, said he looks forward to delivering arguments.

“I enjoy orating, speaking in front of people. I find it so fun to do,” Grugan said.

Camp instructor, local attorney David Andrews, said he was amazed at the response for the camp.

“I think it is a reflection of how hot mock trial is now in high school and college,” he said.

Mock trial sharpens skills in public speaking and is regarded as great academic exposure, he said.

The fact that Juniata College is hosting the camp may have something to do with it.

Last year, the Juniata College mock trial team won at the American Mock Trial Association regionals and finished in the

top 10 of the national opening round championship series.

Andrews is counsel for Juniata College and coach of the college’s mock trial team.

He previously coached the Altoona Area High School mock trial team to a state championship.