“Not Guilty!” That was the conclusion the jury came to in the ‘trial’ of fictitious character Samuel Bigglesworth for his involvement in the Boston Tea Party. Mr. Bonnema’s 5th grade class participated in a mock trial as a culmination of a project to determine whether the Boston Tea Party was the sole factor in starting the Revolutionary War. The students developed both the prosecution and defense cases, and also created character witnesses to testify. The trial was presided by Judge (and our Principal) Dan DeKam, with Mr. Bonnema as the Bailiff, and the 5th grade Spanish Immersion class as the jury.
The student who pretended to be defendant Samuel Bigglesworth shared that preparing for the trial was kind of tricky. “You only have so many questions you can prepare to answer – and they might have better questions than the ones you thought of! I learned that people like Samuel were fighting for civil rights and considered the things England was doing acts of war,” Eli summarized.
In addition to the mock trial, the class also visited the Muskegon County Courthouse, met with a Muskegon County judge, witnessed a mock trial performed by the Prosecutor’s office and learned about trial procedure from the Assistant Prosecutor to Muskegon County (and MCS dad) Tim Maat!
“The project was a great civics lesson as well as a fun way to learn more about the Revolutionary period of our country’s history,” Mr. Bonnema concluded.