Pioneering Mediation at the high school level, Principia School hosted the first high school Mediation tournament in the United States in November 2021 and is set to host its fourth annual tournament on November 17 and 18 as the first in-person tournament to date. This year, 12 teams representing seven schools are participating from around the state. A prestigious panel of volunteer judges and mentors—experts and alumni from Washington University and the Principia College Mediation Team to name a few—will coach and provide participating students and provide feedback throughout the competition.
The tournament is conducted with the support of the International Academy of Dispute Resolution (INADR), an organization that runs tournaments at the college and law school levels. Principia and INADR have received national attention because of the relevance of Mediation today and the important life skills that can be learned.“It’s exciting to see the growth of high school mediation tournaments throughout the country since Principia hosted the first one back in 2021,” said Patti Fox, Chair of the National High School Mediation Tournament Committee and key organizer of this year’s tournament. “Since 2021, tournaments have been held in Arizona, Iowa, and the Ferguson Florissant school district. We are fortunate to continue to partner with the INADR in hosting these enriching tournaments and are grateful for their expertise and support.”
The format of the tournament is as follows:
Mediation teams consist of three students. Students play the role of mediator, advocate (lawyer), and client over three preliminary rounds, allowing each student the opportunity to gain experience from each perspective. Each student must co-mediate a round with a student-mediator from another school. Two weeks before the tournament begins, coaches receive the cases to be used in the tournament to begin preparing. These cases are often based on real lawsuits. Judges, who often are professional mediators or lawyers, provide the scoring for each round and provide excellent feedback to help students gain confidence and experience in mediation. The top three teams from each school qualified to compete in the finals.
Mediation teaches students to work together to reach an outcome that benefits all parties and promotes reconciliation and healing. The creative conclusions the students come up with require great collaboration and critical thinking that transcends the notion of a singular perspective.
“Mediation challenges students to grapple with real-life, complex cases while executing critical thinking, flexibility, and patience,” said Head of School Dr. Merry Sorrells. “Competitions like these provide relevant and engaging learning environments for intellectual and personal growth while equipping our students with the future-ready skills they need to succeed in college, law school, or wherever else life takes them.”