Councilwoman Cergol Recognizes Huntington Mock Trial Team

Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol, at the May 1, 2018 Town Board meeting, recognized the Huntington High School Mock Trial Team, which recently was crowned Suffolk County Champion.

Councilwoman Cergol also gave special recognition to Xavier Palacios, a Huntington school board member who helped establish the team four years ago and who serves as one of its coaches. Mr. Palacios recently donated $40,000 to benefit the school’s Mock Trial program. Some of the money will be used to construct a mock courtroom the students can use to practice.

The New York State Bar Association began the mock trial competition 36 years ago; currently, more than 350 teams from high schools across the state and 1,500 volunteer attorneys participate. In the competition, the teams are given a case – this year’s case centered on a high school student arrested for disorderly conduct who accused school officials of questionable motives in the arrest – and are asked to act as attorneys and witnesses.

The Huntington team met outside of school hours several times a week for several hours at a time to prepare for the County tournament, competing against 27 other high school teams. They compiled a 7-0 record in winning the championship to move on to the state competition in Albany May 13-15.

The coaches include Mr. Palacios, attorneys Jack Piana and John LoTurco, and teachers Susan Biagi and Susan Buchalter. The team has twelve members: co-captains Max Robins and Alyssa Befumo; and members Lena Annunziata, Rory Bocelli, Anna Diaz, Isabella Florio, Melissa Holland, Joseph Mead, John Panos, Lia Schechter, Riley Tucker and Claudia Villa Toro.

“The Mock Trial program helps students gain a better understanding of our legal system and an awareness of its importance in our democratic society. Through hard work and a lot of preparation, this team has proven that they grasp how our justice system works. Congratulations to the team and its coaches, and I wish them luck in the state competition,” Councilwoman Cergol said. “I especially thank Xavier Palacios for his contribution to help continue this activity at Huntington High School  and help produce future champions.”


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