Our Empire SF Experience
by Alex Garver, Central High School
The Empire Mock Trial Tournament in San Francisco provided me with many opportunities I had never experienced before in my life. I had a chance to fly in a plane from rural Pennsylvania to San Francisco. Not only was this my first plane ride, it was also the first plane trip for 3 of my teammates.
The tournament can be best be summed up by one of my teammates, Sophomore Courtney Frye, who stated, “The experience Empire provides gives students something beyond any other academic or athletic program. From the beginning of opening ceremonies, through the trials, and to the end of closing ceremonies, the whole team became closer, and we also made life-long memories of new experiences, new people from many different cultures and different countries.”
Our team had the opportunity to visit Alcatraz, bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, tour Muir Woods, and take a city tour. The phenomenal educational experiences our team was able to participate in came as a result of being selected to compete in the tournament.
Freshman Ashley Sherry said that biking across the Golden Gate Bridge was one of her highlights, “As a student that comes from a town of less than 3,000 people and a high school that only graduates 140 per grade the view from the bridge just gives a perspective on life that I haven’t experienced before. It was awesome.”
The highlight wasn’t the amazing cultural things, but the tournament and the tournament activities. The tour of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was a highlight for many members of our team.
Sophomore Jacob Muthler stated, “It was a privilege and a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to sit in the chairs of the multiple men and women who have served the 9th Circuit.” All of my teammates loved posing with the robes and sitting in front of the courts as we learned its history.
The opening ceremony in the beautiful city hall provided a preview of what would be a magical few days. We as a team were able to meet students from all over the world and not only to compete, but to make many new friends. The best way to describe the competition came from my teammate, Junior Aaron Clouse, who stated, “This experience was a platform on which teamwork and leadership will grow and develop. I hope that we can carry this experience onto not only the regular season, but apply this to our lives so we can become greater leaders in our classroom, school, and community.”
The closing ceremony was great sitting in the Parc 55 ballroom, anticipating the results. Our team of 4 freshman, 4 sophomores, a junior, and a senior waited patiently for the results. We first heard our only senior, and captain, get announced as one of the best attorneys. Then, the announcement that we had placed 5th brought tremendous pride and satisfaction to all of us.
The overall highlight of the trip will not be the awards, not the hotel, or the fabulous activities we did, but the new friends and the wonderful memories of all the activities Empire provides. I was fortunate to compete in New York as a freshman and had the honor to compete in San Francisco as a sophomore. My advice would be to experience an Empire Tournament anywhere because they are life changing.