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SVS students participate in mock trial

From left, Stillaguamish Valley School mock trial participants MacKenna Kelly, Gabe Jett, Chloe Wood, Joshua Wood, Josh Martin, Isaac Dickson, Joseph Kephart, Jan Jasper in back, Anastasia Dickson in front and Pleasant Riderhoo. - Courtesy photo.
From left, Stillaguamish Valley School mock trial participants MacKenna Kelly, Gabe Jett, Chloe Wood, Joshua Wood, Josh Martin, Isaac Dickson, Joseph Kephart, Jan Jasper in back, Anastasia Dickson in front and Pleasant Riderhoo.
— image credit: Courtesy photo.

ARLINGTON — Attendees of the Arlington School Board meeting on Monday, March 10, were treated to a unique recreation of a court case, as students from the Stillaguamish Valley School re-enacted scenes from their mock trial on Friday, February 14.

Terri Bookey, program support specialist for the Stillaguamish Valley School, explained that the students had been preparing since October, and received a hands-on experience in civics by presenting their case before a real judge in a real courtroom, with a real deputy sheriff and prosecuting attorney not only observing the trial proceedings, but also offering advice to the participants following their trial.

“They had to follow the rules of an actual trial, in this case for criminal assistance in the first degree,” Bookey said. “Additionally, this was not a cut-and-dried case. It was very complicated.”

Among the complications of this particular mock trial was that its case was based on the plot and characters of Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

While MacKenna Kelly and Anastasia Dickson took turns as the prosecuting and defense attorneys during that evening’s School Board meeting, Gabe Jett drew chuckles from the crowd with his turn as the private detective Bazzard, who was called to testify as a witness. Dickson and Jett were among the Stillaguamish Valley School students who were singled out after their mock trial for their performances as witnesses.

“This is two and a half hours of each team thinking on their feet,” Michelle Marang, enrichment program coordinator for the Stillaguamish Valley School, said of her students. “They worked really hard and put in a lot of hours. A lot of our kids are eighth-graders, and they were going up against juniors and seniors in high school.”

According to Arlington School District Public Information Coordinator Andrea Conley, the YMCA Mock Trial program provides a venue for teens to experience and learn about working as a team, as well as developing their leadership, citizenship and debating skills.

“Students adhere to strict behavior and dress codes, teaching them professionalism and confidence in addition to critical thinking, public speaking and problem solving skills,” Conley said. “The YMCA Mock Trial mission to ‘Teach Democratic values and skills to youth through hands-on experiences’ is being fulfilled in the lives of our Stillaguamish Valley School student participants.”

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