Brainy Birds: Mock Trial, WorldQuest, and DECA

The Raptors had very successful academic competitions recently!

Mock Trial to States

Our litigious raptors headed to Georgetown on February 25th to compete in regionals against high schools from all over our area. After three long rounds of competition, the team came out victorious with a strong second place finish, narrowly missing first to the team from Fort Dorchester High School. This win is big for the team, qualifying them to compete in the state competition in Columbia on March 11th. Team captain Betsy Bailey noted that the mock trial team did win 4th place at states last year, but that she is hopeful that they will pull through with a performance at states that can send them to nationals for the first time in AMHS mock trial history.

Notably, the team was honored with the Professionalism and Civility Award, an award that they were nominated for by their fellow competitors. This award signals the respect and professional behavior that our raptor attorneys, witnesses, and coaches displayed during the competition. Although it is not surprising that the raptors put on an exemplary display, this is their first time being given this award and it is a very proud accomplishment.

Other awards include the most effective attorneys and witnesses for each round:

  • -Round 1: Betsy Bailey (11) and Campbell Lesher (11)
  • -Round 2: Harry Ding (11) and Jordan Burrell (11)
  • -Round 3: Wilson Swenson (11) and Molly George (10)
  • -Judges Vote: Lukey Sutherland (11) and Harry Ding (11)






To get to know our AMHS mock trial team a little bit better, I talked to the team captains: Wilson Swenson (11), Noa Wallen (11), Harry Ding (11), and Betsy Bailey (11), who provided me with some interesting insight on mock trial. Coached by Dr. Russell, the mock trial team is composed of 3 prosecution attorneys, 3 prosecution witnesses, 3 defense attorneys, 3 defense witnesses, a bailiff, and a timekeeper. The roster is made up as such:


  • Attorneys: Wilson Swenson (11), Betsy Bailey (11), Lukey Sutherland (11)
  • Witnesses: Molly George (10), Kimmy Do (10), Campbell Lesher (11)


  • Attorneys: Harry Ding (11), Noa Wallen (11), Joey Benich (12)
  • Witnesses: Jordan Burrell (11), Ava Smoak (11), Harrison Biddle (12)


  • Adam Leon (9)


  • Mateus Guimarães (9)
Witness Kimmy Do at regionals

If you—like me— were unsure of how mock trial works, every team in the state is given one case. Each team has their witnesses who play the characters of the trial while the attorneys ask them questions about the proceedings. Our litigious raptors get together 2 hours per week to practice their case, but captain Betsy Bailey says that “if you want to do well you should probably practice for an additional hour outside of our meetings to understand the material”. In a great conversation with Ava Smoak and Betsy Bailey, they shared with me their favorite memories from the team– as the two have been a part of mock trial since their freshman year. 



Betsy: “Another time keeper gave our time keeper her number to pass along to Harry Ding because she thought he was cute.”

Ava: “When someone on the other team was cursing after they lost the objection on virtual mock trial because they thought they were muted.”

With these interesting tidbits, we will wish the Mock Trial team good luck at states and hopefully many more fun experiences!

WorldQuest to Nationals

On the same day as the mock trial team, our WorldQuest teams competed in the state competition at Charleston Southern University. Coached by Dr. Zerbst and Mr. Rusciolelli, the two raptor teams took home 1st AND 2nd place! It was a true Magnet sweep— the only kind of shutout anyone will see from an AMHS team (sorry athletes!) Lead by club president Finlay Palmer, the teams are comprised of 8 of our most studious raptors, who are listed below:

-Team 1:

  • Jeffrey Song (12), Willa Wiley (12), Finlay Palmer (12), Kabir Zaman (11)
Team 1

-Team 2:

  • Abram Shuler, Colin George (11), Rutledge Sander, and Justin Womble (12)
Team 2

Thanks to their victory, the group will go to the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Academic WorldQuest 2022-2023 National Competition in Washington, D.C. The competition will be held on April 28th-29th— the same weekend as prom! Hopefully our Raptors make us proud and are able to fly back to the nest in time to celebrate their victory with everyone at Founders Hall.

Raptors take on D.C.!

For those who are unaware, WorldQuest is run by the World Affairs Councils of America to “expose youth to the world outside our borders and prepares them for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century”. During competitions there are 10 rounds with 10 questions per round. Students have 45 seconds to answer each question  at local competitions and 30 seconds to answer at the national competition. Teams are each comprised of four people, and compete against each other to answer questions from ten thematic categories. The categories this year are: 

  1. Securing the Future of the World’s Wildlife
  2. The Arctic Council: Frozen Cooperation
  3. Atrocity Prevention and Accountability
  4. Combating Global Food Insecurity
  5. Economic Sanctions – A Double-Edged Sword
  6. Great Decisions
  7. Country in Focus: Ethiopia
  8. The Future of Supply Chains
  9. Battle of the Century: Autocracy vs. Democracy
  10. Current Events

To gain some insight into how our WorldQuest team functions, I asked a few questions to the members of Team 1. On their practicing habits, Kabir Zaman revealed that to prepare for nationals the team will be practicing together every week, and eventually every day as the competition grows nearer. According to Willa Wiley, they divided the ten topics amongst themselves so they each had an area of focus. For Willa, her most difficult topic was “Combating Global Food Insecurity”. She quipped that there were “way too many statistics to memorize for it to be ethical”. Kabir expressed his happiness with his topics this year, especially “Atrocity Prevention and Accountability” because it is something that he has been interested in for a long time. Specifically, he said, “I have been torn on how to hold leaders accountable for committing crimes against humanity, so reading the sources has taught me a lot about ongoing injustices and our ability to combat them”.

Team 1 boys at the Capitol building!

To wrap up, I asked Jeffery Song about his favorite memory as a member of WorldQuest, to which he responded with a story from their journey to nationals last year. Between competing against teams from across the country, visiting historic museums, and exploring our country’s capital, Jeffrey had the chance to get in a picture with a group of Virginian high school students heading to prom. What a silly goose!

Wish the best of luck to the WorldQuest team as they prepare for nationals!

DECA to Nationals

Coached by Mr. McCormick and lead by presidents Anna Skinner (12) and Abby Brauchle (11), the raptor DECA team competed in the state competition in North Charleston on February 24th and 25th. Thanks to their success, they have qualified to compete in nationals, which are going to be held in Orlando, Florida on April 22nd-25th. The raptors took home a multitude of awards, with projects placing from 1st-5th place. Awards, categories, and team members are as follows:

-Project Management Community Awareness: 1st Place
  • Grace Reuben
  • Sophie Reuben
  • Abby Brauchle
-Business Law and Ethics: 2nd Place
  • Eliana Collier
  • Anna Skinner

-Business Law and Ethics: 3rd Place

  • Keren Collins
  • Shannon Phelan
-Travel and Tourism: 5th Place
  • Louisa Mulvey
  • Emma Herrin
-Marketing Management Team Decision: 5th Place
  • Ava Smoak
  • Suzanna Carlsten
So many winners!

DECA, or Distributive Education Clubs of America, is meant to provide an experience for students to learn business concepts and prepare for future college and career endeavors.

Project Management/Community Awareness squad!

To understand what being a part of DECA is truly like, I spoke to twins Sophie and Grace Ruben. These two, alongside Abby Brauchle, took home first place for their efforts in the Project Management/Community Awareness category. According to the twins, they focused their project on bee decline in South Carolina and how five specific factors were contributing to this problem. The group has been working hard and getting together once a week to understand how habitat destruction, pesticide use, invasive parasites, climate change, and invasive plant species have impacted our state’s bee population. With this effort and dedication, they were able to secure a first place victory at the state level competition, and will hopefully be able to continue this pattern at nationals!

Best of luck next month raptors!