, Newburyport, MA

March 19, 2013

Mock trial was rewarding for all involved

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

When teaching and learning come together in extraordinary ways, it is simply awe-inspiring. And when you have had a hand in creating the opportunity, it is extremely rewarding. As the special programs coordinator for the Triton Regional School District, I’m that lucky person.

For a period of 10 weeks, after school, a group of Triton Middle School students prepared to present a mock trial case with assistance from their teacher, Justine Benson, and attorneys Nicole Reilly and Charles Rotundi.

Student-led prosecution and defense teams presented their cases before Judge Peter Doyle in the Newburyport District Court recently, and it certainly was awe-inspiring.

There are many definitions of positive youth development, but best practices include strategies that focus on giving young people the chance to form relationships with caring adults, build skills and exercise leadership. Our TMS 21st Century Mock Trial program is an authentic example of positive youth development. The program, funded with a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, is supported by Triton parents, youth, teachers, administrators and School Committee members, as well as volunteers outside the Triton community.

The philosophy, “It takes a village,” is certainly apropos in this extended learning opportunity for students because it would not have been possible without the generous donation of time and effort from attorneys Nicole Reilly and Charles Rotundi; the Honorable Peter Doyle; Newburyport District Court Magistrate Kathryn Early; and assistant chief court officer Michelle Gaeta.

I would also like to express our sincere appreciation to TMS teacher Justine Benson and volunteer jurors: Christine Astuccio, Donald Beaulieu, Andrea D’Aloisio, Lee DeBoisbriand, Brian Forget, Susan King, Paul Lees, Alan MacRae, Julie Nardone, Dan Ouellette, Janet Tosi and Robin Williams.

We are thankful to all who helped to make this wonderful learning experience possible for our students.

Carla J. Collins

Triton Regional School District