By Cynthia Werelius     2/24/2020

Cornelia Connelly school’s Mock Trial Teacher Coach Dorothy Morris, and student Tahlia Garcia (’21), won top awards at the Feb. 6 annual Mock Trial Awards Reception hosted by The Constitutional Rights Foundation, Orange County. With over 900 high school students from 40 local high schools competing in the 2019-2020 Mock Trial season, the small all-girls Catholic high school from Anaheim scored a huge win. 

Dorothy Morris, Connelly English teacher and department chair, was awarded Mock Trial Teacher Coach of the Year. Morris, upon hearing the news of the award, said, “I feel proud. I am proud of my girls, and I am proud of myself and my fellow coaches. While we did not get the wins we wanted this season, we worked hard, stayed positive, and had a ton of fun.” Mrs. Morris was nominated by her students. “I am tremendously attached to my Mock Trial girls,” Morris said, “and it is beautiful to see concrete evidence that my affection is reciprocated.” 

Connelly junior Tahlia Garcia, who has been participating in Mock Trial since her freshman year, was also honored at the awards reception.  She was awarded Outstanding Pre-Trial Attorney. Garcia expressed her gratitude saying, “I am so honored to have received this award and I couldn’t have done it without the support of our amazing attorney coaches. Mrs. Morris definitely deserved her award because she puts so much into our team and we appreciate her very much.  Everyone on the team is so passionate about mock trial and I am grateful for the opportunity to compete for Connelly.” 

Each year the Constitutional Rights Foundation sponsors the statewide Mock Trial Competition. Cornelia Connelly is a member of the Orange County chapter. Mock Trial combines law-related education with tournament-style competition. Using a simulated criminal court case, students explore current and complex legal, social, and constitutional issues. Student teams from over 40 local high schools prepare to enact every role in a trial with the guidance of attorney and teacher coaches. The teams meet at the Central Justice Center for eight rounds of competition. Superior Court, California Appellate, and Federal Court judges preside at the trials, and attorneys observe and rate the performance of student teams in a variety of categories. More than 900 students and hundreds of volunteers from the legal and education communities participate in the program.  

This is Cornelia Connelly School’s final year participating in CRF-OC’s Orange County Mock Trial Competition. The school is scheduled to close at the end of the academic school year in June 2020 due to years of diminishing enrollment, increased debt, and shortfalls in fundraising efforts. Despite this discouraging news, Connelly students have never ceased striving to perform to their utmost abilities. They continue to lead, serve, and inspire just as their school motto states, and their foundress, Cornelia Connelly exemplified.