State and national honors have come in recent months to La Reina High School of Thousand Oaks.
On March 27, La Reina captured the California State Mock Trial Championship after competition with schools representing 29 counties and five court cases. La Reina thus qualifies for the national Mock Trial Tournament, May 5-7 in Phoenix.
In the state tournament, La Reina --- which also earned the California title in 2008 and 16 Ventura County titles since 1990 --- won preliminary rounds versus Westlake High School (Ventura County), Southwest (Imperial County), Prospect (Santa Clara County) and Tamalpais (Marin County).
The finals found the La Reina defense team competing against Elk Grove High School (Sacramento County) with Justice Steven Perren of the California Courts of Appeal presiding.
Senior Thea Percival won top awards for her portrayal of defense witness Chris Draper. La Reina's team also includes seniors Janaki Balachandran, Elizabeth Epstein, Ashley Lawrence, Alyssa Mallory and Laurel Rodewald; juniors Olivia Polk and Hannah Young; sophomores Katie Gerbasi, Elizabeth Hribal, Lena Melillo, Rachel Warner and Marnie Vaughan; and freshman Olivia Aulicino, Ryanne Bamieh and Nisha Srinivasa. Team alternates are Sucheta Kadaba, Michaela Posner, Jennifer Stahle and Kathleen Sullivan. Attorney coaches are Ron Bamieh, Kendall Jones, Jean Wentz and Rick Wentz and the team's faculty adviser is Liz Harlacher.
The state Mock Trial title came one month after La Reina's choral group, the La Reina Singers, performed at New York's Carnegie Hall for the National High School Choral Festival. The festival brings together selected choirs invited by Manhattan Concert Productions to perform in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium.
Under the baton of Dr. Lee Nelson, conductor, the La Reina Singers were joined by two other high schools to form the National Festival Chorus and performed classical and contemporary works by Vivaldi, Brahms, Bach, Monteverdi, Morton and others. La Reina freshman Shannon Fish (soprano) and seniors Skye Privat (soprano) and Nicole Walsh (alto) performed the only solos within the Chorus' presentation.
Members of the La Reina Singers performing at Carnegie Hall also included sopranos Melissa Birch, Caitlin Birch, Madison Budig, Emmaline Clare Chisholm, Jasmin Macarios, Claire Moss, Ciara O'Donnell, Marisa Orlow, Laura Power, Annie Schohl, Christina Torigian and Molly Tucker. Altos included Korrin Alpers, Jill Kane, Cecilia Lindgren, Charlotte McGill, Sienna Privat and Alicia Sadowski.
"It was a wonderful experience for all of us," said Heidi Valencia Vas, La Reina's director of music. "I take great joy in knowing that these students are not only growing as musicians, but are making memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives."
The La Reina Singers, comprised of students in grades 7-12, couple a strong community service and outreach component with an academic, classically-based musical performance experience. Their yearly calendar includes community outreach performances and appearances throughout Ventura County.