Split Decisions in Three Eighth-Grade Mock Trails

Deliberating in the Middle School
Deliberating in the Middle School

Three eighth-grade juries came to different verdicts in mock trials that centered around a case where a customer was burned by coffee served by a fictitious coffee shop, and sued for damages. After hearing from witnesses in the case, the juries had to decide who was at fault, the plaintiff (Lee Cavanaugh, the coffee drinker) or the defendant (Cup of Joe, the business who sold the beverage).

According to Middle School History and Global Studies Teacher Andrew Syfu, jurors were tasked with deciding if the defendant was negligent from a legal perspective, and if the shop was strictly liable for the injuries sustained by Mr. Cavanaugh.

After careful deliberation, juries came to divergent conclusions, Mr. Syfu said. “However, all juries believed both sides were at fault for the coffee spillage.” One jury ruled in favor of the defendant (Cup of Joe), and the other two juries ruled in favor of the plaintiff (Lee Cavanaugh).

A snowball fight that followed was "a very civil fight," according to Mr. Syfu.
A snowball fight that followed was “a very civil fight,” according to Mr. Syfu.

Mr. Syfu explained the academic significance of the mock trial as a way to give students a better understanding of our legal system, while increasing confidence in critical thinking, reasoning, and presentation skills. “The experience also helps students understand the role of government in resolving disputes,” he added. Finally, the students are asked to assess how their team worked together. 

As an amusing aside, after the first day of witness testimony, students left Whitaker-Bement and blew off a little steam by hurling snowballs at one another. As Mr. Syfu noted, “(I)t was a very civil fight!”

Three Faculty Members Inducted into Cum Laude Society

Cum Laude inductees Beatrice Cody, Thomas Johnson, and Sarah Sawyer
Cum Laude inductees Beatrice Cody, Thomas Johnson, and Sarah Sawyer

Three faculty members were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during a recent ceremony at Williston. They are Beatrice Cody, head of the Language Department; Thomas Johnson, history and global studies teacher; and Sarah Sawyer, head of the English Department.

Dean of Faculty Peter Valine welcomed the three into the society and gave the following speech: “The Cum Laude Society is a fellowship of scholars whose purpose is to recognize excellence in academic work. We appreciate and applaud your efforts in inspiring students and striving for excellence in the craft of teaching. For your contributions to scholarship and learning in our community the Cum Laude Committee has selected you for induction into the Williston Northampton Chapter of the Cum Laude Society. As members of this society we look forward to your support of both students and peers in their quests for growth and knowledge.”