Keshav Anand, ’21, stands in the gigantic courtroom, large enough to fit three Matthews Libraries inside of it, and tries to remember his lines.
It’s the final round of the Sacramento County Mock Trial competition in 2017. Anand, then a freshman, is the team’s bailiff, meaning he must call the court to order and swear in witnesses. His performance in the trial will help determine whether Country Day advances to the state competition that year.
“There were definitely nerves for me because I was like, ‘This is like the final round. If I don’t perform my best, God knows what happens,’” he said.
Country Day ultimately won that trial, resulting in the first and only first-place win for the team at the Sacramento county competition, which the team competes at every year.
That moment showed the potential of the Mock Trial team to Anand. Four years after that trial, he became a captain of the team and a prosecuting attorney.
His sister, junior Sanjana Anand, remembers watching the 2017 trial from the audience.
“I wasn’t even at Country Day yet, but I went to see him in trial, and I was so proud of him,” she said.
Keshav’s performance and his encouragement to join the team was one of the reasons Sanjana started Mock Trial.
Seeing new people like his sister begin Mock Trial and improve their speaking skills is one of Keshav’s favorite parts of the team.
“You can see the growth of everyone and it’s amazing because you’re like, ‘Oh, this person projects even better,” he said.
One of the highlights of that growth has been the many memories he’s made along the way.
He specifically recalls the NorCal scrimmage that Country Day usually attends every year.
“You’re talking with everyone on your team for two days, so that’s always really fun,” he said.
He vividly recalls preparing for a last-minute role change to an attorney the night before the NorCal competition in 2018.
“It taught me a lot about public speaking and how to be a good impromptu speaker,” he said.
Senior Sarina Rye helped him prepare for that trial, and became one of the co-captains of the 2020-21 Mock Trial Team.
“As a captain, you’re a captain of the whole team, but I didn’t have to worry about the prosecution,” she said. “He had it. It was fine.”
In the time since their first practice together as freshmen, Rye said she’s happy she had the opportunity to meet Anand in high school, since most of her friends at the school are from pre-K.
“This was just for four years, but I’m very glad to have four years,” she said.
Team coach Rick Lewkowitz said that Anand has been a pleasure to have on the team.
“Great, great attitude,” he said. “Very enthusiastic, very energetic.”
He described Anand’s performance as a bailiff in his freshman year as exemplary, as well as his willingness to help others without being asked.
Anand also performed as a bailiff in the most recent county competition in addition to being an attorney.
“His whole attitude was immediately enthusiastic,” Lewkowitz said. “That’s typical of him.”
“Whatever you asked him to do, he does, sometimes volunteering more than I asked. I can always count on him.”
Sanjana described him similarly.
“Whenever I need help with anything, he’s always there to help me,” she said.
Beyond Mock Trial, Anand has used his public speaking skills to tutor children in other countries through the nonprofit Cognitive Exchange.
He’s the Vice President of Technology for the organization and has been an active tutor for six years.
“On top of my job as a teacher, I monitor technology, our G-Suite, our website, making sure everything runs smoothly,” he said.
Because Cognitive Exchange is a global organization, its technology capabilities are especially important, Anand said.
He credits his experience in Mock Trial with helping him tutor others.
“The ideas I carry from Mock Trial, I tried to teach to my students in Cognitive Exchange,” he said. “This is something that’s helping me, why not pass it on and give it forward.”
Anand has branched out beyond public speaking. He has competed in National History Day since he was in sixth grade and attended the state competition multiple times. He also has spent several years playing tennis and is one of the school’s team captains.
Although Anand has enjoyed all of his activities, he’s not sure whether he’ll continue with Mock Trial in the fall.
He plans to attend the honors program for engineering at Georgia Tech and hopes to settle into the changes of college life before taking on anything else.
“I’m nervous to see how I’ll fit in, and I’ll definitely miss everything in Sacramento,” he said. “But I’m very excited to start this new chapter in my life and do something that will set me up for the rest of it.”
— By Samhita Kumar