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Builders Club Ending Year with a Bang
Christine Gordillo

Harding’s Kiwanis Builders Club was busy last week! First, they had a Kona Ice fundraiser for Friendship Animal Rescue on Friday. Then, they volunteered at the Meet The Trucks event at Lakewood Park on June 1. They are working to make Lakewood and our world a better place one act at a time!

Mock Trial Teams Take Home Honors
Christine Gordillo

Garfield and Harding participated in the statewide Middle School Mock Trial Showcase sponsored by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education last month in at the State Courthouse in Columbus and came away with many awards, including Best Attorney and Best Witness. Garfield’s three teams together won three of six possible Best Attorney awards and three of six possible Best Witness awards. Harding’s two teams won two  Best Attorney awards and one Best Witness award. 



combined teams

Pictured above: All the members of the Garfield and Harding teams.

Garfield’s “Best Attorneys” were Tyler Kemp, Avery Spahr, and Adam Tanina. Harding’s “Best Attorneys” were Julia Thomas and Ingrid Matera. Garfield’s “Best Witnesses” were  Cory Clemens, Zsofi Flasher, and Henry Trefethen. Harding’s “Best Witness” was Harper Haney.

Team scores are ranked into three tiers. Forty-three teams from districts across Ohio competed over three days, and only sixteen teams scored in the top tier. The Garfield Ranger Team received the highest rating of “Superior.” Garfield Gold and Purple Teams as well as Harding Team 1 received a rating of “Outstanding” and Harding Team 2 received a rating of “Excellent.” 

This year the Middle School Mock Trials were based on the book The Giver by Lois Lowry in which a teenager in a dystopian society risks his well-being and goes against the rules of his community to save the life of a small child. 

Each middle school team subdivides into a prosecution and a defense squad, and prepares for two different trials against other Ohio middle schools. Students take on the roles of attorneys, witnesses, and bailiff/timers. The trials take place in front of real attorneys who act as trial judges and who rate teams on case understanding, professional demeanor, oratory skills, and understanding of trial technique and courtroom procedure. Garfield sent three teams of seventh graders and had three trials running in the morning as well as three in the afternoon. Harding sent two teams, one seventh grade and one eighth grade, and had two trials running simultaneously in the morning and repeated that schedule in the afternoon.

Special thanks to attorney Sarah Cleves, a Lakewood resident and Senior Claims Attorney with ABA Insurance Services, Inc., who acted as a legal advisor for Garfield’s teams, coached by Mrs. Colleen Gromek. Garfield’s seventh-grade participants were Sam Anderson, Mustafa Anwari, Nixon Biasotti, Cory Clemens, William Costello, Dylan Emerson, Zsofi Flasher, Colleen Flynn, Gian Frederick, Brock Hammersmith, Emmy Hansen, Danica Herberger, Rylan Hongosh, Orri Hudson, Tyler Kemp, Ben Knight, Jonah McAlister, Toast Miklowski, Samantha Moran, Mallory Mossman, Norah Murtha, Nick Orefice, Evelyn Quesada, Emaline Reba, Elm Russell, Avery Spahr, Desmond Stevenson, Adam Tanina, Claire Timieski, Meagan Towner-McCormick, Henry Trefethen, and Andy Witwer. 

At Harding, Mrs. Batkiewicz, Mr. Avila-John, and Mrs. Murray guided their 7th and 8th grade teams along with help from countless attorneys and judges present during the week of Playoffs which decided Harding’s teams.  

Harding’s 8th grade students participating were: Veronica Allie, Ally Demaline, Luca Eppley, Connor Hibinger, Darwin Hurley, Delia Jablonski, Jack Janko, Julia Myers, Delaney Rodgers, Maddie Sheils, Anthony Smith, Savannah Sullivan, Alden Therrien, and Julia Thomas

Harding’s 7th grade students were: Andrew Babson, Marie Brosky, Deagan Carney, Ace Griggs, Harper Haney, Tyler Kinder, Quinn Liderbach, Caroline Lubas, Ingrid Matera, Marlo Melnick, Lane Rowland, Autumn Seeley, Amelie Snipes, and Anna Winchester 

Also, a special thanks to the Lakewood Rangers Education Foundation for helping fund this project! We could not have done this without your support!

Board OKs Plush as Next Harding Principal
Christine Gordillo

The Lakewood Board of Education approved Willoughby Middle School Principal Christopher “Chip” Plush as the next principal of Harding Middle School, beginning Aug. 1, 2024. 

Plush has spent the last eight years as an administrator for the Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools.

Plush began as a high school house principal and then moved into an assistant principal role at the middle school level before assuming the principal job at Willoughby Middle School in 2021. He began his educational career as a language arts teacher at Willoughby South High School.

Among many accomplishments while principal at Willoughby Middle School, Plush and his team earned the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce 2023 Momentum Award in recognition of significant improvement in growth and achievement on the Ohio School Report Cards. 

Plush earned his undergraduate degree in education from University of Dayton and was awarded a master’s degree in educational administration from Cleveland State University.   

Plush expressed his gratitude and excitement about his new role at Monday’s Board meeting: “I am truly thrilled and grateful to be able to serve this diverse and supportive community,” he said. “I am committed to serving the city of Lakewood by being highly visible, putting relationships first, building an outstanding school culture, and always placing student learning at the forefront of what we do. We will take care of students every single day at Harding Middle School.”