The regional rounds of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s annual Vincent J. Apruzzese High School Mock Trial Competition got off to a rousing start at the New Jersey Law Center Feb. 9, as county winners competed in the first phase of the Southern Regional contest. This week, their county champion counterparts in the Northern and Central regions of the state are likewise battling for their respective regional titles at the New Jersey Law Center.
From an original field of 249 registrants, winners of phase one of the regionals will vie for regional titles on March 16; then three regional title holders will compete in semi-finals on March 18. From there, the two schools left standing will compete in the finals on March 24. The winner of the finals will go on to represent the Garden State in the National High School Mock Trial Championship (NHSMTC) to be held in Philadelphia in early May.
Excitement is running high on school campuses in all areas of the state. But for Atlantic County winner Holy Spirit High School, its victory in the Southern Regional contest isn’t just its ninth time as county champion — or even a reminder of its winning the state title in 1984, impressive as that record is. This year, the preliminary triumph took on special meaning, as the school dedicated its entire competition season to the memory of a longtime, much loved team coach.
“I’d never seen anything like it,” said David Pfeifer, Holy Spirit’s mock trial teacher-coach since 1983. “Last summer we lost Daniel Murray, the school’s attorney-coach for the past 20 years. Not only did the team dedicate all their matches to him, but his photo was placed on a table at every competition this season.”
That image, said Pfeifer, inspired the students, who would tell him, “We look at Mr. Murray’s picture, and we know what to say.”
In turn, Pfeifer has nothing but good things to say about the young men and women representing Holy Spirit. “The camaraderie that this team has expressed from the beginning has made it very special.”