South Plainfield, NJ - The fifth grade gifted-and-talented class held a mock trial in the courtroom at Borough Hall on January 31, 2014. Students played the parts of witnesses, a forensic expert, a bailiff, lawyers and jury members, with the students taking part in what the sponsors called a "unique learning experience." The mock trial was based on the novel "Holes" by Louis Sachar.
After the defense and prosecution teams presented their cases, the jury rendered two not-guilty verdicts and two guilty verdicts. The jury members deliberated for some time before coming up with a decision for each of the four charges.
The event provided students with an opportunity to improve their critical thinking, communication, public speaking, and reasoning skills through team collaboration.
Members of the community who assisted in the mock trial included Councilman Rob Bengivenga and Councilman Ray Rusnak, who acted as judges, and Lieutenant Wendell Born, who played the officer at the scene. Attorney Andrew Ullrich provided the students with an understanding of the judicial process. The gifted and talented teachers are Carolyn White and Laura McCreesh.