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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


Southeast Valley Middle School Mock Trial Teams Compete at Regional Contest


During the month of November, two Middle School Mock Trial teams competed in the 37th Annual Iowa Middle School Mock Trial Tournament. The teams had been practicing for the competition since early September.

To participate in Mock Trial, a team must have a minimum of eight members who argue a court case from both sides. This year’s case was a civil case. The fictional case involved a fire at a nightclub in Iowa called the Love Shack (nod to the B-52s; there were references to the band and the song throughout the case). During a performance by the indie-alt-thrash-punk group called The Dutch Masters, pyrotechnics caused a fire leading to the death of a 17 year old, Jack Wilson. Jack’s parent sued the nightclub owner, Barrie Buck, claiming Buck’s negligence as a business owner caused Jack’s death.

To effectively participate in Mock Trial, team members play parts on both the plaintiff and defense sides of this case. They learn correct protocol for courtroom behavior and have to be prepared to be challenged by the opposing team. Witnesses learn detailed statements. In this case, the witnesses varied in age and character. The challenge is for students to portray these witnesses and be in character throughout the trial.

This year’s contest had an extra challenge: Zoom. While many events and activities have had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic, the Iowa Bar Association, sponsor of the Mock Trial program, worked hard to adjust the rules so Iowa kids could still have their program. The students learned even more about Zoom AND how to adjust when tech isn’t as cooperative as you’d like it to be. The virtual format allowed former students and Mock Trial alumni Kelly Oeltjenbruns and Natalie Williams to preside over scrimmages and volunteer to judge for the competition. Former SVMS Mock Trial Assistant Coach Miranda Henkel Zoomed in to preside over a scrimmage and law student Conor Delaney Zoomed from North Dakota.

One of the highlights of SVMS is our annual field trip relating to the case. In the Love Shack case, the Surf Ballroom is mentioned several times. We took a trip to the Surf and got a guided tour of the venue. It helped the students to picture what a nightclub looked like and gave them a sense of the size and scope of the Love Shack nightclub from the case.

Southeast Valley fielded two teams this year. The Investigators was a team of students new to the program. The team Life of the Party was made of 7th and 8th graders. In the preliminary round, a number of SV students received recognition as Outstanding Attorney or Outstanding Witness by the judges in their virtual courtrooms. 

All-District Witness

Owen Nuss as DefendantBarrie Buck, owner of the Love Shack

Lauren Johnson on Defense as pyrotechnic expert Stacey Byrne


Taylor Willardson on Plaintiff as Fredricka Schneider, Iowa fire investigator

Brayden Crampton as Plaintiff Rickie Wilson


All-District Attorney

Hallie Crampton on Defense

Ryleigh McFarland and JaiCe Jackson Defense


Ella Farnham on Plaintiff

Lauren Johnson on Plaintiff


The team Life of the Party consisting of experienced mockers, won both of their preliminary rounds and advanced to the play-off round. For the play-off round, the team portrayed the defense going against Merrill Middle School from Des Moines. While Life of the Party was unsuccessful in winning this round, Ryleigh McFarland received recognition from the judges as Outstanding Attorney and Lauren Johnson was recognized as an Outstanding Witness portraying Stacey Byrne.

Many teams chose not to compete this year given the challenges of virtual competition. Southeast Valley students not only stepped up to the plate, but succeeded at learning skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

Life of the Party:  Life of the Party members are Ryleigh McFarland, Lydia Bair, Rian Schlief (on screen), Taylor Willardson, Lauren Johson, Blessing Cunigan, JaiCe Jackson, and Ava Chase. Life of the Party won both rounds in the preliminary competition and was able to participate in the play-offs.

This photo illustrates the challenges of virtual competition. Taylor Bair, on the witness stand as Rem Brandt, leader of The Dutch Masters, answers questions from the opposing team over Zoom. The opposing team was very hard to hear so Ryleigh McFarland is as close to the speakers as possible so we could respond appropriately.

The SVMS Mock Trial team took a guided tour of the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. The Surf Ballroom was referenced several times in the case which was about a fictional nightclub, the Love Shack.



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