Rifle High School senior-to-be does summer school at Brown University

Rifle High School student Layla Moore on the last day of school June 2.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Rifle High School senior-to-be Layla Moore is going to be stuck in summer school — at Brown University.

For the past three years, Moore has delivered arguments and jousted in faux litigation on the Rifle High School mock trial team. Her skillset this year helped garner a $6,000 scholarship from bar associations in Garfield and Pitkin counties.

That support means Moore is now slated to analyze historical texts and media writing at an Ivy League institution from late July to early August.

“I’m super excited,” she said. “There were even some online courses that obviously wouldn’t cost as much money, but, in my opinion, the experience is as good as the knowledge I’m going to get.”

Moore said she’ll participate in analyzing historical writing pieces and writing in the media. The two week program aims to strengthen arguments and broaden perspectives.

Mock trial itself consists of all the elements typically found in a court case. Students immerse themselves in the roles of judges, witnesses and attorneys while they analyze loads of court documents.

In Moore’s case, her innate ability to write an argument resonated with Rifle High School instructors and officials affiliated with the 9th Judicial District of Colorado.

“I think that, in the beginning, it’s intimidating,” Moore said of working with 9th Judicial District judges and attorneys. “But then you kind of realize that they’re just people, and they want to help you learn, and they want to help you grow.”

Mock trial coach Nathan Miller, who teaches International Baccalaureate History of the Americas and Theory of Knowledge, calls his star pupil a “fish in water” when it comes to a courtroom.

“Layla is one of the best writers in her class,” he said. “She’s a thinker, she’s empathetic. She kind of meets the criteria for a lot of the traits in our IB learner profile.”

Moore is one of a few Rifle High School students to show interest in attending an Ivy League college. If she applies, is accepted and attends, Moore would in fact be the first student under Miller’s tenure at Rifle High School to do so, he said.

“That’s why she’s getting this opportunity,” he said. “Because she’s taking a risk.

“It’s about putting yourself out there to be criticized. She’s not afraid to do that.”

Moore originally comes from a working-class background. Moving to Colorado from Ohio at age 7, her father, Jordan, is now a supervisor at a tree service company in Gypsum. Her mother, Brandi, is a house manager at a Glenwood Springs restaurant.

Neither one of her parents graduated high school, Moore said. Jordan, however, has forever tried to teach Moore the power of “breaking the cycle,” he would tell her.

“Ever since I was young, my dad kind of instilled into me — even though he didn’t graduate high school — good grades, good grades. Think: Reach for the stars,” she said. “I think that he definitely wanted that for me, and I think it’d be really fulfilling.”

Ninth Judicial Bar Association President Michael Fox said Moore specifically showed interest in pre-law. Fox also lauded Moore’s writing ability, saying she “has a vision of her future that is really impressive to us.”

“We are ecstatic to support her and to support other students that are really deserving of and accepted into these really impressive programs,” he said. “It’s a summer program, so it’s kind of a stepping stone to college, but it’s at an Ivy League level, which is very cool.”

There’s always a need for good lawyers in the valley, Fox said. And if Moore continues to pursue and then accomplish this Ivy League goal, she could very well find herself, if she chooses to, litigating in a Garfield County courtroom.

“I think that we would definitely consider her,” he said.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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