Clara Knett, in the band room, with a container of epoxy glue - this bullying-based mystery concerning a clarinet prodigy who sabotaged her peers will be contemplated in a jury setting by middle school students throughout the state May 20.
The scenario and accompanying script were created by Mary Frances Batten's seventh- and eighth-grade students in the Richard M. Teitelman School's Law Adventure program, a feeder to Lower Cape May Regional High School's mock trial program. Batten is a seventh-grade language arts teacher at the middle school.
The Law Adventure program requires students to construct a script about one of two proposed topics that can be considered for recognition and performance during the May 20 mock trial conference. Only about five or six scripts from different Law Adventure programs in New Jersey are chosen for performance at the end of the year.
"The whole point is they have to create a case from scratch and it has to be totally balanced," Batten said. "A definite split down the middle - that's a perfect case."
This year, Batten's students' script about Clara Knett was chosen to be performed by the students. This is the first time the school's script has been chosen after a hiatus of the Law Adventure program in the district; however, scripts from Batten's students have been chosen in previous years.
This year's script, called Bully Banter Abuzz, is a case about bullying in the school system. Clara Knett has been accused of destroying her fellow band members' instruments with glue.
"There is a lot of high-order thinking and writing skills involved," Batten said.
The students who wrote the script also have to act it out in front of other state winners, Batten said. The students from the Law Adventure programs will act as jurors for their peers' cases.
Twelve of Batten's Law Adventure students will travel to New Brunswick, Middlesex County, in May for the day of mock trial. In addition to the field trip, the script will be published.
On April 3, the Teitelman Law Adventure students will go to the courthouse in Cape May Court House for a trial run of their script. The children's parents will sit in as jurors on that occasion.
"(It's a) credible opportunity for many children to become aware of all the careers that are involved in the law, and not just lawyers," Batten said. "The New Jersey Bar Association deserves so much credit for being so generous with their funds. I don't even think they know how fabulous it is."
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