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Congratulations to the students and coaches from Strom Thurmond High School of Johnson for winning the 2021-2022 SC Bar High School Mock Trial State Championship. This marks the school’s ninth state title. 

The state finals, featuring 12 teams, was held virtually March 10-12, with two championship rounds on Saturday. Carolina Forest High School of Myrtle Beach was the first runner-up, and the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics of Hartsville received the Professionalism and Civility Award. Strom Thurmond High, coached by teachers Denise Jackson and Steven McKinney and attorneys Blair and Shane Massey, will represent South Carolina in the National High School Mock Trial Championship hosted virtually by Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

“It is a blessing to have worked with the South Carolina Bar for nearly 40 years. Nine mock trial championships are now attached to our school’s name. In our own little community of Edgefield, there seems to be a revolving door of dedicated teaching and legal professionals and talented young people hungry for a chance to explore tools that will lead to a future of public service,” said Jackson, who also helps coach the Johnson-Edgefield-Trenton (JET) Middle School Mock Trial team with Blair Massey. “My thanks to the folks at the SC Bar for supporting our team as we prepare to represent our state at the national high school mock trial tournament sponsored by the state of Michigan in May.” 

“I am so incredibly proud of this team. It just goes to show that a team from a small school in a small town can be formidable if they are determined and work hard. These students have a very bright future ahead of them,” stated Blair Massey. 

Carolina Forest High, which finished as first runner-up for the second consecutive year, was coached by teacher Anthony Antolak and attorney volunteers Natasha Hanna, Bri Wilson and Brad Smith.  

The team had to reconfigure itself after winning regionals due to scheduling conflicts with some of its seniors and fielded a group with one senior and students taking on roles they had not previously. 

“Long story short, this team is fearless,” Antolak said. “They had little experience but did not hesitate to take on the challenge of the state tournament. The kids stayed positive and did extremely well and ended up in the final round.  None of this would have worked without the willingness of all the kids. This season is a testament to their competitive spirit and commitment to each other.”  

In the past month, between the South Carolina state and regional Mock Trial competitions hosting 34 teams, there were 250 volunteers comprised of presiding judges, attorneys serving as judges and as attorney coaches, and law students. 

The SC Bar Law Related Education (LRE) Division and Committee thank all the attorney volunteers that made the second virtual competition year such a success. 

“It was an honor to see so many attorneys invest their time into students statewide and impressing upon them not only their passion for the law, but for their community,” said Cynthia H. Cothran, LRE Division Director. “Mock Trial has 134 seniors graduating this year and because of our volunteers, these seniors will take their Mock Trial experiences with them as they embark upon their next journey with an everlasting impact of gained life skills, lessons on the rules of evidence, an appreciation for the courts, and friendships with fellow students, teachers, attorney coaches, and judges.”