Norwich Public Schools:
Teachers' students take part in annual mock trial
Sarah J. Herrick For The Bulletin
Enjoying healthy treats donated by families and handmade crafts to give to their loved ones, Mrs. Sandoval's kindergarten class at Mahan School had its annual celebration of love recently.
Through literature and restorative circles they learned about the importance of showing and receiving love, as well as ways to express emotions appropriately. Students responded why they love people:
"I mostly love the people who take care of me and think I'm funny like my mom and you (Mrs. Sandoval) and Mrs. Kate and Mrs. Sandra."
"I love the people who live in my house, even when my little sister makes me angry."
"Well, I love nice people, but I sometimes love mean people if they use their words and say sorry."
For a couple of weeks, the class learned about various roles different loved ones have in their lives. It was important that the children learn about each other's families and perspectives. Families are often nontraditional so they spoke with each other and asked questions about single parent homes, step parents, foster and adoptive parents, etc.
At the end of the discussions and celebration, the goal was for children to realize we all have one thing in common despite differences: we all wake up and go to sleep each day giving and receiving love; which makes us incredibly lucky.
Students in Mrs. Rollinson's after-school club at Teachers' Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School recently took part in the third annual mock trial. Attorney Isabel Del Vecchis offered her assistance and worked with them on their script.
Every year, students find a mock trial script and learn about the different types of laws, courts, jury selection, roles and rules, and then go to the Norwich Courthouse for the mock trial.
This year's script involved an eighth-grader, played by Yesena Ayala, accused of attempting to steal one of the high school's new laptops. Although caught by the teacher, played by Amya LaFlesh-Chambers, putting the laptop under her jacket, Ayala's character Pat Morton claims she was just helping her sister, J.D., played by Grace Mueller. Pat's sister apparently told her she had gotten permission to borrow the laptop and because it was raining outside, was just trying to protect it by putting it inside her jacket.
The prosecution, lead by Imman Johnson, Lismary Aguilar and Arahya Rodgrigeuz, called a number of witnesses to strengthen their case, including the computer teacher.
The defense team, led by Shayla Cagle and Ruby Chiu, interviewed both sisters in an attempt to showcase Pat's good character and dispute the charges against her. Witnesses were sworn in by Halie Hughes, who played dual roles as the Marshal, Clerk and Jury Foreperson. Upon reaching a verdict, the judge, played by Gabe Bartlett, asked that the decision be read aloud.
A verdict of not guilty was delivered to the relief of Pat Morton and her defense team.
Sarah J. Herrick is Norwich Public Schools' Business Office administrative assistant.