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Southeast Valley Middle School

Southeast Valley Middle School

30850 Paragon Ave., Burnside, IA 50521
Office (515) 359-2235
Office Fax (515) 359-2236

Basic Information

Grades: 5th - 8th
Enrollment: 330
Hours: 8:25 a.m. - 3:20 p.m.

Principal: Greg Slininger

Secretary: Beth Kisch
Secretary: Dana Housken

Guidance Counselor: Jenny Eckert

Nurse: Joann Lennon





Southeast Valley Middle School News



Mock Trial State Competition


The Southeast Valley Middle School Mock Trial team finished their season with two days at the state competition. To reach the state competition, the team won two rounds of competition at the regional contest in early November, finishing second overall at the 17 team tournament. Throughout the state, over 150 mock trial teams participated in regional contests. Thirty-two of those teams advanced to the state competition. SV students had several weeks to refine their case in order to compete well on the 27th and 28th at the state competition in Des Moines.

During the two-day contest, the Jags participated in three trials portraying Plaintiff twice and Defense once. This year’s case was civil. The Plaintiff, parents of April Ludgate, were suing their daughter’s summer camp, Camp Morning Star, for negligence because April contracted Lyme disease while at the camp. The Ludgates said that camp did not prevent April’s exposure to ticks and then did not get her the proper treatment when she started showing symptoms of the disease. The camp, the defense in the case, claimed that April was at fault because she broke all of the camp’s rules regarding tick exposure and tick inspection. All of the names and relationships in the case were loosely based on the sitcom Parks & Recreation.

The team started working on this case in early September. On a mock trial team students learn to argue both sides of the case as they portray either lawyers or witnesses. For example, the same student who plays a lawyer on defense might portray a witness on prosecution. Those portraying lawyers must learn how to conduct themselves in a courtroom, how to properly enter evidence, how to object and how to respond to objections. Witnesses must learn their statements backwards and forwards so they can respond to cross-examination questions thrown at them by the other team. In short, there is an immense amount of information that students must learn and process in order to be successful. The students on this year’s theme were diligent in their study of the case materials and the courtroom protocol.

Below are some specifics regarding each round of the state competition. In each round, judges can rank who they think are the top three witnesses and the top three lawyers. In the summary below, the talent of the SVMS team is apparent by the number of nominations they received:

Left to Right: Mackenzie Lambert, Cale Stapp, Nate Scott, Calean Oakes, Ethan Buenting, Chloe Speck, Evan Zeka, Cooper Nuss, Kyle Johnson


1st Round

We presented the Plaintiff side of the case this round. Our opponent was Bergman Academy from Des Moines. This team ultimately came in 2nd at the tournament. We lost this case by ½ point.

Lawyers nominated as Outstanding Attorney were Chloe Speck and Caelan Oakes.

Mackenzie Lambert was nominated by both judges in the 1st position and Ethan Buenting was nominated in the 2nd position for Outstanding Witness. Mackenzie Lambert received a certificate and medal for being nominated in the first position by both.


2nd Round

We presented the Defense side of the case this round. Our opponent was Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. SVMS won this round.

Chloe Speck was nominated in the 1st position by both judges and got a medal and a certificate. Ethan Buenting, Nate Scott and Mackenzie Lambert were all nominated in this round as Outstanding Witnesses.


3rd Round

Our opponent was Merrill Middle School from Des Moines. Ethan Buenting, Mackenzie Lambert and Nate Scott got nominated for Outstanding Witness.

In the tournament overall, 15 students received awards for Outstanding Attorneys including SVMS student, Chloe Speck. To put this in perspective, in each round there are eight student-lawyers. Each of the judges places the name of who they think is the best lawyer in the number one position on the ballot. At the state tournament, there were 16 trials happening concurrently in each round for a total of 128 student-lawyers. Each team presented both sides of the case in the tournament meaning that, overall, 256 students portrayed lawyers. Chloe’s recognition as an Outstanding Attorney in that field is impressive.

The award for Outstanding Witness is similar. In each trial, six students portray witnesses with 96 students acting as witnesses in each round. Over the course of the tournament, 192 students portrayed the witnesses with 13 students, including SVMS student Mackenzie Lambert, being given this top award. Both Mackenzie and Chloe were standouts in their roles throughout the tournament.

The teamwork displayed by the 29 middle school students who participated this season was exemplary and they should be commended for participating in one of the most rigorous academic programs in the country. The director of Iowa’s Middle School Mock Trial contest is fond of telling everyone that middle school mock trial programs don’t exist in most other states because people don’t believe that middle schoolers can handle the complexity of mock trial. Iowa students prove them wrong every year.



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for the Twin Lakes Conference schools
Non-conference schools may have a different price for gate admissions


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