photos by Gracie Griffin

The Dripping Springs mock trial team won the Young Hearts Matter Day of Action award on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at the Hays county court house in San Marcos, Texas before their official mock trial this past Tuesday.

The award was presented by the Texas Council on Family Violence, due to efforts made over the years to raise awareness about dating violence, as well as the mock trial.

“The award recognized Sarah Brandon and all the work that has been done to promote dating and family violence awareness,” Coach Watts, an important facilitator to the students during the mock trial, said.

The mock trial is an event that simulates the circumstances of an actual trial that revolves around teen dating violence.

The students get to learn how trials work from the inside.

“Students act as the lawyers as well as the witnesses, and they learn the proper procedures of going to trial and then have an opportunity to simulate it in the presence of judges and court officials,” Watts said.

Junior representative Gwyneth Pietrzyk says being on the Dating Violence Awareness Board is one of the most rewarding clubs to join.

“It felt amazing to win the Young Hearts Matter award,” Pietrzyk said. “Knowing that individuals see how much we care about our community and notice a change is one of the most rewarding aspects of the whole process.”

Participating in the mock trial is also beneficial because it is said that it teaches the students helpful life lessons.

“This project sends an important message to all teenagers, and we believe this has the utmost value to our students,” Watts said. “It is also a goal of this district to provide our students with the tools necessary to make good decisions and handle difficult situations.”

Pietrzyk agrees and says that being a part of the trial benefits the community as well as the members.

“Understanding how powerful and capable you can be  is the best experience,” Pietrzyk said. “In doing mock trial and being a part of the board, I have learned a lot about myself and what I can do, and I only hope others could feel the same way.”

The Dripping Springs team was hand picked as a pilot school for this program.

“A panel of teams came together and looked at all the high schools’ mock trials, and we were chosen 100% across the board,” Watts said.

The mock trial team consists of around 125 students. The volunteers will be serving in a variety of functions throughout the proceedings.

“We are attempting to accommodate all interested students,” Watts said. “There are positions available for jurors, lawyers, witnesses, and historians.

The event lasted all day Tuesday, Feb. 28.

“We hope to have as many students participate as possible,” watts said, “and we will accommodate all interested parties.”

Written by Camryn Horst