Bell Creek Academy’s mock trial team recently won a first place trophy.

The mock trial high school team at Bell Creek Academy had the opportunity to compete against neighboring schools such as Plant High School, King High School and more on February 22 during the mock trial competition at the Hillsborough County Courthouse, located in downtown Tampa.

Students stood in front of district and circuit court judges from Hillsborough County. The team at Bell Creek Academy won first place, and now they will compete in the state finals. Some of the feedback that the judges gave to the Bell Creek Academy students included how they are better prepared and know how to conduct a trial as well as actual attorneys that they see in court daily.

Director of Law Academy and Head Coach of the Mock Trial Team Charles Leadingham mentioned what kind of preparation his students went through.

“Once we got the case in November, roles did get assigned, rules of evidence did get learned and we worked almost everyday after school to prepare,” Leadingham said.

This will be Leadingham’s third year coaching the mock trial team and the school’s fourth year of competing. The Bell Creek Academy’s mock trial team consists of 13 students in grades nine through 12. Students get hands-on experience through the mock trial program. Its mission is primarily to teach the students about the legal system and how it works.

Leadingham feels as though his students worked very hard in regards to them winning first place and expressed all of the talent his team possesses. For instance, last year, Pete Cuebas was awarded ‘Best Expert Witness’ in the state.

This year, Cuebas received ‘Best Attorney’ in the district competition in Hillsborough County. Cuebas joined the team during his sophomore years as this would give him distinct opportunities to improve his public speaking and presentation skills.

Cuebas shared how he felt being awarded ‘Best Attorney’ from the judges as a junior.

“It feels humbling and I appreciate all the time that each of the judges dedicated to the competition itself,” Cuebas said.

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Tatiana Ortiz
Tatiana Ortiz is a freelance writer with the Osprey Observer Newspaper. She began as an intern here in 2010 and has been writing since. Tatiana graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys photography, biking and being with her family.