Signal Mountain High School took third place at the 2019 Tennessee High School Mock Trial competition. The Signal Mountain team finished third among 14 qualifying teams from across the state and was the highest-placing public high school team.
Since Signal Mountain Middle High School opened in the fall of 2008, it is the only public school from the Chattanooga District to go to the state tournament and has now advanced four times as District Champion, including each of the last three years.
Last year was the first time Signal ranked among the state’s Top 10 with a sixth-place finish. Signal Mountain is the only public school from Chattanooga that has ever placed in the Top 10 at the state tournament since 1995, according to lead coach and local attorney Charlie Poss.
This also was the first year that Signal had two teams qualify to compete in finals at the District level, where the top two teams go on to State. Only one of the teams won in District finals, but SMHS finished first and third in the Chattanooga District.
“I am so proud of these absolutely fabulous and incredibly intelligent kids,” Mr. Poss said. “We have been practicing since October, and the number of hours of work they put into the season is staggering. Throughout the season, they worked very hard, were respectful and polite, and made our jobs as coaches very easy.”
Mr. Poss noted that students on Mock Trial teams also are involved with many other activities including theater, soccer, music, band, Model UN, Youth in Government, Technology Student Association, FBLA, and more.
Students on Signal’s state team were Jack Poss, Ryan McGregor, Luke Whitney, Max Burk, George Andreescu, David Cornea, Meredith Bennett (all seniors), Ethan Fell, Tehreem Hussain, Caroline Cornett, Maggie Meller (all juniors), and Lainey Jenkins (sophomore). Emma Wu and May Mon also attended as alternates and were important to preparation for the state tournament.
George Andreescu was recognized as the team’s MVP at state.
Mr. Poss recognized the seniors as “the cornerstone” to Signal Mountain’s success in mock trial these last four years. “They are some of the top performing students in Hamilton County,” he said, “and they are all among the greatest people I've been involved with as a mock trial coach.”
Mr. Poss basically founded Signal’s mock trial program with two other SMMHS attorney parents/coaches: James Brooks and Tracy Cox. They took their first team to the state tournament in the 2010-2011 season. That team didn’t break the state’s Top Ten, but Senior Alex Button won Best Witness for the Prosecution.
Between then and now, another SMMHS attorney parent Scott Bennett joined the coaching group and Signal worked even harder to end the stronghold that McCallie and Chattanooga Homeschool held over district competition.
In the 2014-2015 season, SMHS broke through and went back to the state tournament. Signal didn’t advance the following year but returned in 2016-2017 as the Chattanooga District Champion.
Last year, Signal made history as it was the first time a SMHS team won the Chattanooga District and advanced to the state tournament two years in a row. Senior Trinity Donnellan also received the runner up award for Best Attorney for the Plaintiff.
This 2018-2019 season was a banner year for Signal Mountain’s mock trial program with the school snagging a three-peat as District Champion (with the state teams never losing a district match) and breaking into the Top Three at state.
In addition to praising students and fellow coaches, Mr. Poss also recognized SMMHS faculty sponsor Lorri Whitney, who he said is “so dedicated to these students and is such an incredible asset to SMHS.”
Signal Mountain’s only loss among four matches at this year’s State competition was to the team that ended up winning the entire competition (repeating as state champs).
Tennessee’s 2019 Top 10 Mock Trial teams are:
10th place- Beech High School
9th place- Jefferson County High School
8th place- Springfield High School
7th place- University School of Nashville
6th place- Farragut High School
5th place- Westminster Academy
4th place- St. Mary’s Episcopal School
3rd place- Signal Mountain High School
2nd place- Harpeth Hall
1st place- Agathos Classical School