A few weeks ago I got a text from attorney Chris Carillo, who practices employment litigation with Jackson Lewis in Riverside and is the attorney coach for Citrus Valley High School’s Mock Trial team in Redlands. He was eager to share the news that the team took second place in San Bernardino County.
I called the team’s faculty coach Kate Fonken to hear all about it.
She said the competition and win were amazing, coming off of two years of being basically online. This year’s team had only one student who had ever been in a courtroom.
THE CVHS MOCK TRIAL TEAM
- Juliana Acuna
- Alyssa Camacho
- Alexandra Carreon
- Ava Esteves Jaime
- Morgan Fierro
- Maddox Flowers
- Alyssa Gidley
- Ariana Gutierrez
- Vivienne Igbinosun
- Brianna Ilacas
- Inara Khankashi
- Bella Moreno
- Dominic Pedroza
- Marsha Rajagukguk
- Noah Sanchez
- Rashad Tyler
“We thought it was sort of a building year,” she said. “We were wrong.”
Fonken co-coaches mock trial with her volleyball co-coach Debbie Muniz. They also had help from Donna St. George, who retired from RHS in 2021 after coaching that mock trial team to the most wins in county history – 16.
Carillo had been one of St. George’s students, and he helped get the program going at CVHS, which, in its 15th year, is the newest high school in Redlands.
“Chris saw the new school had no attorney coach and the other schools had a ton of coaches,” Fonken said. “He went, ‘That’s not fair. That’s not right.’
“We’re so blessed to have him. He loves teaching. He doesn’t just go, ‘Say this.’ He asks them the right questions to guide them to understanding. He’s great and passionate about helping the students grow.”
With their success at the county level, the CVHS team went on to compete at the state level, which was a first for the school.
This is the fifth year Fonken and Muniz have coached mock trial, and Fonken said, despite not advancing like this before, the results have been rewarding.
“We have a couple former students currently in law school, and some that worked with Chris before we became coaches, who are now coaches,” she said.
“One high school senior, Morgan Sierra, is going into an internship with the district attorney. It was her first year on the team. She just blossomed. We’re so impressed by her. She started out with a smaller role and ended up with a really big role.”[/wlm_private]