A team of 11 Challenge B students from the Classical Conversations homeschool group in Denham Springs recently squared off against 14 Challenge B students from the New Orleans area in two mock trials at the Livingston Parish Council Chambers.

Both teams were made of eighth and ninth graders, and the students' objective was to use all the skills they had acquired this school year for two end-of-the-year mock trials. 


Students pose with retired judge Darrell White after performing the Classical Conversation’s Challenge B mock trial on Friday, May 12. This group of homeschool students took on the Challenge B team from Kenner and the West Bank in two trials at the Livingston Parish Council Chambers. From left to right: Ethan Ford, Tybee Cumberland, Julian Facundas, Brooke Sandefur, Miranda Broussard, White, Emily Bourgeois, Grace Slack, Sarah DiMaria and Brooke Hobson.

This year, Challenge B students were introduced to traditional and formal logic, giving them a chance to work through those skills as well as the skills of rhetoric. They were also taught how to better understand the legal realm and legal jargon.

On Friday, both teams took what they learned and applied it to two trials, with each team getting a chance to serve as the defense and the prosecution.

Darrell White, a retired judge who served in the City Court of Baton Rouge for more than 20 years, presided over the civil case while offering several helpful critiques to students throughout both trials.

A jury of five females and one male determined the verdicts — both of which were in favor of the plaintiffs — while Terry McCullough, a paralegal by profession and a former Class B teacher, served as the independent administrator for both teams.

But the students were mostly in control of the mock trials, acting as either prosecuting lawyers, defense lawyers, witnesses and bailiffs — and in some cases both.


Four Challenge B students of the Classical Conversations homeschool group in Denham Springs prepare for their trial against the Challenge B team made of students from Kenner and the West Bank. From left: Grace Slack, Brooke Hobson and Miranda Broussard prepare to defend Sarah DiMaria (far right).

There were only a handful of empty seats as more than 100 people filled the Livingston Parish Council Chambers on Friday, giving students the feel of an actual court proceeding.

For Denham’s Challenge B team, Miranda Broussard, Grace Slack and Brooke Hobson represented Sarah DiMaria, who played the role of defendant CJ Calhoun in the first trial. Brooke Sandefur, Grace Sandefur and Emily Bourgeois were the lawyers on Denham's prosecution team in the second trial, with Ethan Ford acting as the plaintiff, Sam Parker.

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