PICO RIVERA, Calif.—The Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) awarded two Senior Division Awards to Mesrobian High School Students Ani Khachigian and Anya Avedissian, who came out on top against thousands of students from over a hundred of Southern California’s largest public schools, prestigious independent schools, and private schools in the 39th Annual CRF Los Angeles County Mock Trial Program.
“This year we had 154 teams participate, that is over 2,500 middle and high school students that were actively engaged in law-related education,” said the CRF in a statement last week announcing the results.
Despite the stiff competition, Mesrobian High School students showed their mettle as the only high school to receive two of five available awards in the category of “Outstanding Defense Witnesses,” the only high school to receive consecutive awards in a single category — and not to mention — the only Armenian High School to receive recognition.
Mesrobian High School students also received six “Honorable Mention” awards that are only given to the top scoring competitors.
“This was my first year participating in Mock Trial,” explained Sophomore student Izabella Melkonian. “I put in a lot of time, hard work, and dedication throughout meetings after school and even meetings on Saturday mornings!”
“It might have gotten frustrating at times, learning all the details of the case inside and out,” added Melkonian, “but it has been such a fun, interesting, and amazing experience. I will definitely join again next year.”
Students argued before a Superior Court Judge at Los Angeles Stanley Mosk Courthouse dressed like professional attorneys with legal research in hand, armed with an understanding of the California and federal judicial systems, and knowledge of courtroom procedures. They had to portray both prosecution and defense on two separate evenings against opposing student legal teams.
Junior Anush Ghoogasian, who has been a member of the Mock Trial team since it started three years ago, and Freshman Nune Papikyan were the team’s Most Valuable Participants in the first and second trials respectively, which were decided by the opposing teams.
“Mock Trial is the kind of program that really stands out on a student’s resume,” explained Ashod Mooradian (Class of 1987) who is a Senior Trial Counsel at the State Bar of California and helped establish Mesrobian High School’s Mock Trial team. “I value that the program brings together so many disciplines: English, persuasion, argumentation, communication, strategy, debate, history, etc.”
As Mesrobian High School students receive college counseling and consider their paths toward higher education, rigorous extracurricular programs like Mock Trial prepare students for the challenges of college, while also providing an outlet for students to figure out what they want to do in life.
“I’m interested in forensic science, law and psychology. I enjoy analyzing people and situations, and I learned that the law is a part of that.” said Junior Victoria Cinquegrani, who has also been a member of the team since its inception. “Now that I have a sense of what the those subjects are like from a legal perspective, what I want to do in life is becoming more clear to me.”
The team was coached principally by two Mesrobian Alumni, Alexandra Kazarian (Class of 1998), Attorney at Law in private practice, and Mr. Mooradian. They were assisted by Mesrobian teacher and adviser Berj Parseghian.
Past guest coaches have included Thomas V. Girardi, widely regarded as one of the nation’s top trial lawyers with numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements; Honorable Judge Zaven Sinanian, who is an Armenian-American judge in the Los Angeles Superior Court; Detective Tigran Topadzhikyan; Mark Geragos, an Armenian-American high-profile celebrity criminal defense lawyer and regularly appearing CNN contributor; as well as a constantly revolving door of Mesrobian Alumni eager to help their alma mater.
“Each year that I have the honor of coaching these students, I am floored by their dedication and drive to work as hard as they can. Once again, their commendable efforts paid off and, not only did they shine in the eyes of their coaches, teachers, and parents, but two of our students were honored with county-wide awards, given to them by opposing teams and judges. I hope everyone involved feels the same pride that we do on behalf of all of our amazing students,” said Kazarian.
Mesrobian High School’s Mock Trial legal team included: 12th Graders Eva Mooradian and Michelle Tervandian; 11th Graders Victoria Cinquegrani, Anush Ghoogasian, and Sevag Roohinian; 10th Graders Anya Avedissian, Michael Cinquegrani, Jonathan Cinquegrani, Ani Khachigian, Izabella Melkonian, and Nevart Mooradian; and 9th Graders Briana Godigian, Emma Melkonian, and Nune Papikyan.
Students receiving “Honorable Mention” awards were: Michael Cinquegrani; Victoria Cinquegrani; Nevart Mooradian (2 awards for her prosecution and defense roles); Nune Papikyan; Sevag Roohinian; and Michelle Tervandian.
“Every year the students in the Mesrobian High School Mock Trial Team show a talent and determination that makes me proud as an attorney coach, parent and alumni. This year the students built on their past years’ success by not only putting on a competitive prosecution and defense, but also winning the overall outstanding student awards in two witness categories. Being an attorney coach is a fun and gratifying experience and I encourage any Mesrobian alumni that are trial attorneys to consider becoming a part of the High School Mock Trial program next year.” said Mooradian.
The Mesrobian Mock Trial program is a formal initiative of the Mesrobian Alumni and Mentorship Network, which connects current Armenian Mesrobian School students with the school’s half century spanning network of vast and experienced alumni in various professional fields.
As has become tradition, a Mock Trial Team Awards reception will be held with students, parents, local community leaders, and elected officials to celebrate the high school’s Mock Trial team and accomplishments. More details to come.
Armenian Mesrobian School, established in 1965, is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has Ron and Goharik Gabriel Preschool (which serves students 2-5 years old), Elementary, Middle School and a college preparatory High School on the same campus. A major convenience for parents who may have children at multiple ages, Mesrobian offers a unique perspective and opportunity for students, teachers, and parents to grow together, and for students to get the attention and nurturing they need to be successful in school and in life. The High School curriculum is certified to the University of California. Mesrobian’s Alumni Network and Mentorship Program connects students with over five decades of alumni who have distinguished themselves in fields as diverse as education, science, business, medicine, music, law, dentistry, chiropractic, politics, art, marketing, engineering, veterinary medicine, and psychology.
If you are interested in scheduling a campus visit or enrolling your child, please contact the school at (562) 699-2057 or (323) 723-3181, or email [email protected].