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Forsyth Central, Lambert shine at mock trial competition

CUMMING — Two Forsyth County teams took top honors in the Georgia High School Mock Trial regional competition, all while preparing students for potential future careers in the legal profession.

The Region 17 mock trial was held over the weekend at the Forsyth County Courthouse, the County Administration Building and Cumming City Hall. It included teams from all five high schools in the county, as well as Cambridge, Centennial and Milton.

The verdict: While Cambridge High, located in west-neighboring Milton, took the overall regional award, new rules of the state competition allow the second- and third-place teams — Forsyth Central and Lambert — to compete in the district competition Feb. 28 in Athens.

The district winner will proceed to the state competition, which is held next month at the Gwinnett Justice Center in Lawrenceville.

About 150 students participated in the regional event, said Kathy Vail of the Retired Educators Association. That included students from Liberty and Otwell middle schools who assisted coordinators.

“[The late] Judge Stan Gault and I initiated the program in Forsyth County 27 years ago at Forsyth Central High School,” Vail said. “Since then, Forsyth County schools have successfully participated in the program, which was developed by the Younger Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia to provide students with an operational understanding of the law, legal issues and the judicial process.”

Superior Court Judges Jeff Bagley and David Dickinson presided over the final competition, which featured Central and Cambridge.

More than 75 members of the local legal community served as attorney-coaches, evaluators or judges in the two-day event.

Central’s team, which took second place, includes: Thomas Bray, Kyle Butler, Jillian Fincher, Colin Gardner, Keegan Householder, Mathew Johnson, Makayla Kennedy, Mia Kologranic, Kimberly Lopez, Austin McTier, Rachael Meehan, Taylor Nix, Nicole Strunk, Corey Vascocu and Amy Zhai. Their coach is Michele Dugan.

The following students won individual 2015 Region Awards:

* Zhai: Two Outstanding Attorney and Four Year awards

* Gardner: Outstanding Attorney award

* Bray (twice) and Kennedy, Meehan and Strunk: Outstanding Witness award

Members of Lambert’s team include: Ryan Austin, Neha Balachandran, Dieliza Koraqi, Abhinav Maddineni, Colin Mosley, Sanders Mosley, Kahan-Parekh, Taylor Pigg, Tori Plummer, Tracy Romeo, Cynthia Sun, Joe Sweeney, Tabitha Williams and Chandan Yendamuri. Eric Lauterbach is their coach.

The Kathy Vail Mock Trial Scholarship will be given to the outstanding participant by the Forsyth County Bar Association.

Frank Hamilton, a local attorney, announced that the association will send out information to Forsyth’s high schools in the next 60 days so students may apply.