The Dos Pueblos High School Mock Trial team celebrates its third-place finish in a national competition and receive Congressional Commendations from Congressman Salud Carbajal.
The Dos Pueblos High School mock trial team members celebrate their third-place finish in a national competition and receive Congressional Commendations from Congressman Salud Carbajal on campus last month. (Santa Barbara Unified School District photo)

The Dos Pueblos High School mock trial team is celebrating its third-place finish at a national competition in Baltimore, Maryland.

The school’s mock trial team competed in the Empire Mock Trial invitational tournament Sept. 23-25, where they went up against teams from around the country and one team from Canada.

“We got the case in early July, spent the second half of our summer having two practices a week,” student Maxfield Steele said. “[We] practiced well into the school year, then we flew out to Baltimore for a full week.”

The team competed throughout the whole week, whether in the competition that took place over two days or scrimmages against other teams.

“It was extraordinary to allow these hardworking students to travel and compete live at an advanced level,” attorney coach Lisa Rothstein said. “Each one of them exceeded our high expectations. As coaches, we could not be prouder.”

The team also spent a day in Washington, D.C., where they met Congressman Salud Carbajal and toured the Capitol with one of Carbajal’s legislative assistants.

Carbajal recently visited Dos Pueblos High School and presented the mock trial team members with Congressional Commendations for their achievements in the tournament.

From left, Maxfield Steele, Edo Barel, Jacob Molina, and Amelia Mendro smile together after talking about their experience at the national Empire Mock Trial tournament.

From left, Maxfield Steele, Edo Barel, Jacob Molina and Amelia Mendro talk about their experiences at the national Empire Mock Trial tournament. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

The team that competed at the Empire competition consisted of Edo Barel, Amelia Mendro, Jacob Molina, Maxfield Steele, Io Zhu, Charlotte Choi, Anastasia Li, Sienna Valentine and Liam Avolio.

Hannah Krieshok is the mock trial team’s teacher advisor, and the team is coached by attorneys Rothstein and Christine Voss.

“Our attorneys are fantastic,” Mendro said. “They are already attorneys and do so much for their own jobs, and yet are spending six to eight hours per week with us in person and editing all of our stuff on their own time.”

The team also expressed their appreciation for the support from parents and the community, especially those who have donated online toward their trips.

“Our Baltimore trip is financed some by our team members’ parents, but also largely funded by the community,” Mendro said. “Trips like that and our state travel for the California championships can get pretty expensive, so that donation link is really helpful for us.”

In addition to the team finishing third in the national Empire Mock Trial competition, Molina and Steele won Attorney of the Year awards.

Last year’s Empire competition, as well as several other state competitions, were online through Zoom because of the pandemic.

Members of the Dos Pueblos High School Mock Trial team tour the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. while traveling for the national competition in Maryland.

The Dos Pueblos High School Mock Trial team tours the Capitol in Washington, D.C., while traveling for the national competition in Maryland. (Santa Barbara Unified School District photo)

“This past year was lots of Zoom scrimmages. Basically all of our competitions before our bigger ones toward the end of the year were on Zoom,” Molina said. “We got to have our actual county one in person, but even our state competition was on Zoom and [this year’s] Empire was kind of like a big first in-person trial.”

With this year’s Empire Mock Trial competition behind them, the team said their next steps include the county competition in February, and then hopefully on to the state and national competitions.

The students told Noozhawk about the close community they have tried to create in mock trial and how it’s “really like a family,” Barel said.

The Dos Pueblos High School Mock Trial team.

The Dos Pueblos High School mock trial team. (Santa Barbara Unified School District photo)

“We really do try to make mock trial like a community for everyone on the team,” Mendro said. “We really — as upperclassmen on the team — try to engage with the freshmen and the new people on the team and make sure that everyone feels welcome in our space.”

More information on the school’s mock trial team and information on donating to the team can be found here.

“The support of people all around Santa Barbara is truly what makes this possible,” Barel said.

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at sguentz@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.