The Freedom Cup sits in front of the judge's stand inside a courtroom last Wednesday at the Texas County Justice Center during a 2017 Constitution Project mock trial competition between teams from Houston and Poplar Bluff high schools. The trophy bears the name of each year's overall winners of the statewide competition.

For the third straight year, the Houston High School Constitution Project team will compete in the state finals.

After a mock crime scene investigation, trial and subsequent journalistic coverage, judges selected Houston as the winner in Region 2, topping Mountain Grove, Nixa and Poplar Bluff

Other squads advancing to the finals (Wednesday, Nov. 8, in Jefferson City) include Lebanon (which beat Camdenton, School of the Osage and Marshfield in Region 1) and Rolla (Region 3 winner over Cor Jesu Academy of St. Louis, Fulton and North Tech of Florissant).

Region 2 teams participated in a mock trial competition on Wednesday of last week at the Texas County Justice Center, with Houston taking on Poplar Bluff in the day’s first trial and Mountain Grove and Nixa facing off in the other.

A crime scene investigation at a mock crash site took place the previous week in Mountain Grove, and teams used information and evidence gathered there during the trial.

The Constitution Project was founded in Houston in 2011 by Texas County Associate Circuit Judge Doug Gaston. The project has two primary goals: To give students exciting, hands-on experience in possible future careers that are integral to the U.S. Constitution and the nation, and to provide participants with a greater understanding of and love for the U.S. Constitution, through personal experience in the constitutional system, including concepts such as freedom of the press, due process and the right to trial by jury.

HHS 2017 Constitution Project team

• Crime scene investigators: Taylor Chipps (senior), Charlee Sue Jadwin (junior), Kaitlin Root (senior), Kayla Turner (senior). Alternate – Carly Crawford (senior). Mentor – Former Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell.

• Attorneys: Sydney Anderson, Madison Lawson, Jessica Schivitz, Demi Smith (all seniors). Mentors – Attorneys Bo Anderson and Lynsie Gabel-Upton.

• Journalists: Summer Albrecht (freshman), Janessa Foster (freshman), Vanessa Kirkwood (senior), Jaekan Moss (sophomore), Leah Otte (junior), Shelby Vasseur (senior). Mentor – Houston Herald editor Jeff McNiell.

• Team sponsor: HHS alternative school teacher Maggie Jadwin

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