Zachary forfeits trip to national mock trials _lowres

Photo provided by Chris Staggs -- Zachary High's mock trial team was recognized for winning the Louisiana State Bar Association's High School Mock Trial State and Region 3 championships at the Baton Rouge Bar Association's luncheon on March 23. Guest speaker was Gov. John Bel Edwards, far right. The team was congratulated by Tavares Walker, chairman of the Baton Rouge Bar Mock Trial Committee, far left, and includes front, from left, teacher-coach Adrianne Dykes, Elise Goff, Reagan Staggs, Nash Joyner (holding the trophy) and Shelby Waddell beside Edwards; and back row, teacher-coach Chris Staggs, Aanan Henderson, Jake Robertson, John Carl Begley and attorney-coach Craig Kaster.

One of Zachary High School’s teams Mock Trial teams won the 2016 Louisiana State Bar Association Mock Trial Tournament in Baton Rouge on March 12 but won’t have the opportunity to compete in the nationals.

Because of a conflict in scheduling concerning graduation, the ZHS team will not be able to compete in the nationals May 12-14 in Boise, Idaho.

“My entire team is made up of seniors,” said ZHS Mock Trial Coach Chris Staggs. “Our graduation date is May 13. Schools are allowed to substitute members for the national competition from members of their other mock trial teams if they have them, but in our case, we would have had to substitute for the entire team, which we didn’t feel was the right thing to do.”

Rules stipulate that if the state championship team is unable to represent the state in nationals, then the option of competing is offered to the second-place team, which this year is a team from West Feliciana.

The state competition includes the champion team and the runner-up team from each of the state’s four bar association regions. Zachary won the Region 3 mock trial championship, hosted by the Baton Rouge Bar Association, in February. Then, 22 teams competed in the regional round and Zachary High went undefeated in five rounds, defeating a team from West Feliciana in the regional finals.

The ZHS team also went undefeated in the state tournament with three wins, defeating Early College Academy (Lafayette) and Northside High School (Lafayette) in the preliminary rounds and a West Feliciana team again in the championship round.

This was the third straight year Zachary has won the regional championship and the fourth straight appearance in the state tournament. Zachary was state champion in 2013 and runner-up in 2014 and in 2015 but lost in the state semifinals.

The national event features state champion teams from all 50 states and from South Korea and the Northern Mariana Islands. Zachary’s 2013 state champions competed in the nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“My kids and I are very disappointed that we won’t be able to compete at nationals,” Staggs said. “Our goal every year is to win the state championship and to be able to compete on a national level. Since our participation in the national tournament in 2013, our kids have worked extremely hard for a shot to get back there and have been very close every year. The timing was very unfortunate for our team, but we couldn’t ask our kids to skip their high school graduation and we also didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do to send a team that would not have included any of our kids who won the state championship.”

The ZHS team was recognized at the Baton Rouge Bar Association’s monthly luncheon on March 23 in Baton Rouge. It received the Region 3 championship trophy and was recognized for being both regional and state champions by the BRBA and the president of the Louisiana State Bar Association. The team also was greeted and congratulated by Gov. John Bel Edwards, who was the guest speaker at the luncheon.

The state championship trophy will be officially presented to Zachary High School by the young lawyers division of the state bar association, and the team will be officially recognized for its accomplishments at an upcoming meeting of the Zachary Community School Board.

The winning team from ZHS, all seniors, includes: John Carl Begley, Elise Goff, Aanan Henderson, Nash Joyner, Jake Robertson, Reagan Staggs and Shelby Waddell. Staggs and ZHS teacher Adrianne Dykes are the coaches, along with Zachary attorney Craig Kaster.