As the finale to Chatham Middle School’s CSI Summer Academy, students put their theories to the test in a made-for-TV courtroom showdown, complete with uncooperative witnesses and bad hairdos.
Over the summer, the students had investigated the apparent murder of local Pizza magnate Papa John. Originally thought to be dead after he was found unresponsive on the CMS auditorium stage, Papa John’s body disappeared on the way to the morgue. Authorities found him some time later in the woods behind Ichabod Crane CSD, alive but in a coma. With their victim unable to speak, it was up to CSI Chatham to figure out who had tried to do him in and prove it in court.
After gathering evidence at the scene of the crime, the students conducted forensic lab testing and other police work to hone in on four suspects. Gino Totino (played by social studies teacher Will Richard), Jay-C Caesar (CMS principal Mike Burns), Danny Domino (dean of students Mark Connelly), and Paesan DiGiorno, (Lucas Christensen, instructional support services) were all at Papa John’s party just before he collapsed on the stage, and none of them liked Mr. John very much. As the students began to put together the evidence, it became apparent that one of these men had deliberately exposed Mr. John to a substance he was deathly allergic to. But who?
The “Trial of the Summer” took place at CMS July 31, during which the students examined and cross-examined this surly cast of characters in a formal courtroom setting (the CMS library) overseen by the honorable Judge (AKA social studies teacher) Laudenschlager. After completing their questioning and presenting all their evidence to the court, the students left their case in the hands of the jury (Superintendent Sal DeAngelo, teachers Laura Grill and Jessica Smith, and teaching assistant Susan Lutz) who retreated to the jury room to deliberate the case and decide who had committed the crime. They emerged a short time later with their verdict; Paesan DiGiorno was guilty!
Unlike some other infamous trails that have made history, this time we know the jury got it right – thanks in no small part to the solid evidence our middle schoolers dug up, which made this an open and shut case.
Chatham Middle School’s CSI Summer Academy was a fun and exciting way for students to learn about the fascinating world of our criminal justice system while honing their academic skills over the summer months. The program was coordinated by dean of students Mark Connelly and taught by CMS teachers Jeff Laudenschlager, Laura Grill, and Jessica Smith with teaching assistant Susan Lutz.