Duncanville High School’s Youth and Government legal team achieved a milestone this summer that no other Texas high school team has ever accomplished.
Kennedy Onic and Sebastiane Caballes took second place at the Youth and Government (YAG) Judicial Nationals in Chicago, going further than any previous Texas team.
The competition involved 48 teams who were charged with arguing simulated court cases.
This was the first time the Duncanville YAG team had ever entered the judicial competition. Sebastiene says he and Kennedy certainly were the underdogs given other teams’ experience.
“I had high expectations because we had been improving in each round, but I wasn’t expecting to make it on our first try,” Sebastiane said.
YAG Sponsor Dianne Williams traveled with the team to Chicago.
“You had some of the best and brightest young legal minds there from all over the country going head to head trying to win their case while citing case law as if they were seasoned attorneys,” Williams said.
The student attorneys had to study both sides of the case because they were assigned roles as either plaintiff or respondent prior to each round.
“This appellate competition was intense,” Williams said. “It was like watching a tennis match as your head shifted from attorney to justice to attorney and back again.”
The Duncanville team competed against students from New York in the final round. “Qualifying for the showcase was an amazing feeling and accomplishment,” Kennedy Onic said.
In addition to the team win, Sebastiane Caballes finished the competition as the second highest scoring individual attorney in the United States.
“There were several professional attorneys there who served as evaluators of the competition who came up to me after each round to compliment our students on their performance,” Williams said. “One attorney, from Chicago, even stated that they could come work for him anytime.”
“That’s a big honor especially since law is one of the careers I’m looking at going into,” Sebastiane said. “The culture we set in Duncanville is that success is always our number one priority. I’ really excited for what the next year holds.”