Friday, May 12, 2023

WHS students undertake mock crime investigation with police

By Jolene Bailey

Windham High School offers a plethora of options for students to overcome struggles they might face outside of high school and into adulthood. For many, this includes attending college fairs and shadowing jobs; finding out their path that will unfold. One activity Windham High School does each year is a mock crime scene. Although the classes involved and scenario changes every year, the exercise focuses on English, math, and science.

Students at Windham High School work with investigators
from the Windham Police Department as part of an exercise
to solve a mock crime scene on schools grounds on May 3.
On Wednesday, May 3, students and members of the Windham law enforcement community interacted during a unique Crime Scene Investigation exercise on the school campus.

“The crime that was alleged was a motor-vehicle involved murder in which two neighbors had a problem with each other and shortly after a verbal dispute, one of the neighbors ran the other one off the road causing that driver to be ejected from the vehicle and subsequently pass away from injuries,” said Jason Burke, a Windham Police Department officer who was involved in the actual crime scene.

During the exercise, every WHS student has a role to play in solving the supposed crime. English students were the “detectives,” while math and science students were the “evidence techs” whose duty was to calculate details and handle the evidence.

“The key aspect of all this work is that both sides of the investigation must work together to solve the crime. Both roles needed each other to understand the complete experience,” said WHS teacher Adrianne Shetenhelm.

The exercise not only gave students insight into what it is like to solve a crime, but it also taught participants academic skills that they will need in and outside of a classroom environment.

“I was so proud to see my students, even often quiet ones who may not respond to a lesson within the classroom, engage with police officers, members of the community, and ask hard questions and work with peers to solve the crime. Many demonstrated clever problem-solving and leadership skills,” said Shetenhelm.

The planning process for the exercise started all the way back in September with the officers tasked with setting up the mock crime scene working collaboratively with the educators at Windham High. Each year there is a different mock crime at the school, with different lessons and story plots, and different actors participating, and this was the fourth year that the mock crime scene exercise was staged at the school. Expectations are that students will understand how the different pieces of evidence collected come together to show what happened, which tests are reliable, and which ones have a high possibility of error.

“We teachers work with the police to write this original scenario, and we work hard to manufacture the evidence students find on the scene, but we have to trust that our students will connect all the dots,” Shetenhelm said. “It's like designing a play but in addition to setting the stage, writing the script, and creating the props, you then just have to prepare and then trust that the students are not a passive audience but active participants.”

Teachers normally see students in a classroom setting five out of seven days a week and within this given time, teachers and students are able to create relationships and bonds. But outside of a teacher’s point of view, police officers aren’t as interactive with the students’ daily academic life.

"This event is a lot of fun to participate in. Not only do we get to help with the background preparation and planning, but we also are given the opportunity to teach in the classroom. On the day of the event the scenario brings all of the parts and pieces together to give the students an example of how academic knowledge is put to use in the real world,” said Burke.

All around us are skills for us to pick up upon, Burke said, and the mock crime scene investigation presents just such an opportunity. <

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.