Ninth-grade English students conduct mock trial


Ninth-grade English students conduct mock trial

January 14, 2023

Student lawyer questions witnessFor three weeks, the 47 students in Ms. Danielle Bugasch’s two ninth-grade English honors classes have been preparing for the day where they would go to court in their classroom. Her students prepared as prosecutors, defense attorneys and witnesses for a trial on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, based on the short story, “The Most Dangerous Game.” 

They are determining the guilt or innocence of Sanger Rainsford for the murder of General Zaroff. Faculty members, administrators, and students who have participated in past years made up the jury.

“I liked the project overall because I felt it was our opportunity to learn about the book, in general,” Madison Jakubek, a defense attorney. “If we wouldn’t have done this I wouldn’t have the knowledge that I do about this short story. I liked how it involved everybody communicating and working as a team, because you don’t always get that chance in high school classes. And, it was very creative so you could take your own twist.”

The project requires that students perform extensive research, work collaboratively, speak publicly, gather evidence and write argumentative essays. This provides them with a hands-on learning opportunity to develop their critical thinking, research, and public speaking skills. Additionally, the students learn many aspects of legal court procedures and protocols, such as reciting opening statements, summarizing their cases with closing arguments and objecting to questioning by giving legal reasons such as hearsay or speculation.

“When they go to take exams like the Regents next year they are going to have to do analytical reading but they are going to also have to do argumentative writing as well,” said Ms. Bugasch. “This project really sets the tone for it and the students tend to understand much better through this real life experience that you have to develop claims and you have to be able to support those claims, write about those claims and present those claims.”

Student witness takes the oath“The Most Dangerous Game” is a suspenseful work of art with complex character motivation. Students work in groups, understand that it is a multileveled story and build skills useful for the enjoyment of all works of literature.

In addition to learning and analyzing the story, Ms. Bugasch said the students needed to learn about the trial process and the roles of people working in the courtroom.

“I liked the whole process,” said Grace Cornelius, who was the lead prosecutor. “I liked the preparation. I liked working with my group. Coming together as a team. And, obviously the trial.”

Student lawyers conference to strategize


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