Middle school students bring drama to courtroom

OCLRE logoConformity versus individuality: it is a common conflict teens face, but few end up battling it out in the courtroom. Some, however, will have their day in court on March 31, April 1 and April 2, when more than 300 students from 25 schools across Ohio will participate in the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) Middle School Mock Trial State Showcase at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.
OCLRE Middle School Mock Trial cases are crafted from literature commonly taught in middle school classrooms. The 2014 state showcase trial is Community v. Jaden, based on The Giver, a novel by Lois Lowry.  Set in a fictional community where “sameness” is the norm, Jaden (Jonas, in Lowry’s book) challenges the status quo with his decision to save a young child from “release,” or certain death. When, as a result, the community accuses Jaden of kidnapping, he becomes the defendant in a criminal trial. 
Teams from the following schools will participate: Bethany School (Hamilton County); Blendon Middle School (Franklin County); Columbus City Preparatory School for Girls (Franklin County); Danville Middle School (Knox County); Dominion Middle School (Franklin County); Everts Middle School (Pickaway County); Genoa Middle School (Franklin County); Heritage Middle School (Franklin County); Independence Middle School (Cuyahoga County); Indianola Informal (Franklin County); Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy (Cuyahoga County); Leaves of Learning (Hamilton County); Mason Middle School (Warren County); Menlo Park Academy (Cuyahoga County); North Union Middle School (Union County); Perrysburg Jr. High School (Wood County); Ridgeview Middle School (Franklin County); Riverside K-8 School (Cuyahoga County); St. Hilary School (Summit County); St. Paul School (Franklin County); Walnut Springs Middle School (Franklin County); Waverly Jr. High School (Pike County); Woodward Park Middle School (Franklin County); Yorktown Middle School (Franklin County); and Zanesville Middle School (Muskingum County).
With help from teachers and attorneys, students spend months learning about the legal system and preparing for trial while developing key reading, research, writing and public speaking skills. Each team participates in two trials, arguing both prosecution and defense against opposing teams. Attorneys and judges serve as showcase judges. Students earn points by demonstrating professional demeanor, oratory skills and an understanding of trial technique and courtroom procedure.    
OCLRE partners with teachers to engage students in learning about government, citizenship and the law. OCLRE is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose goal is to improve society by developing citizens empowered with an understanding of our democratic system. OCLRE is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General, Ohio State Bar Association and American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation. Middle School Mock Trial is funded in part by the Ohio State Bar Foundation. For more information on OCLRE, please call (877) 485-3510 or visit www.oclre.org.



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