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The SGS Mock Trial Experience

by Wendy Ewbank, 7th Grade Faculty Member

I believe the best way to engage young people in our legal system is through living it. The more informed we are about how our system is supposed to work, the more we can advocate for ourselves and others and hold our government accountable. At SGS, every 7th grade student learns the U.S. Constitution and the justice it promises. She then participates in a mock trial that brings that justice system to life. When recalling her Mock Trial experience, 8th grader Maggie recalls:

It wasn’t dumbed down. The courtroom made it real and showed the consequences of the law. 

Her classmate Clare agrees: 

We had to use all the knowledge we learned and got to talk with real lawyers. This gave us insight into the legal system...and it was really competitive!
Like many members of the Seattle Girls’ School community, my introduction to our school was by teaching an "internship" (now called Wednesday Workshop), and my offering was Mock Trial. It was winter of 2001 and I was pursuing a Masters in Education at the UW. Little did I know that the judge who opened her courtroom to my eager 6th grade law students would be the same judge presiding over this year’s trial...13 years later! Those 6th graders were the inaugural class at SGS (where I’ve been a teacher ever since) and that judge – now Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu – says she’ll continue to support Mock Trial, an annual 7th grade culminating event, for the foreseeable future.
So what is Mock Trial? This is a chance for students to engage in a realistic, but fictitious, case that they can both relate to and learn from. This year’s case involves the alleged murder of a high school senior who was sold Adderall without a prescription. Each case also involves a constitutional issue – in this case, whether a search conducted by an undercover police officer (posing as a high school senior) required a warrant and thus violated the defendant’s right to privacy.
Professional lawyers volunteer their services to coach the girls in their prosecution and defense teams, and every student plays a key role as a witness or lawyer. This experience gives students firsthand knowledge of how the justice system works and personalizes concepts like due process, the right to know what you’re charged with, to have witnesses on your behalf, and to face your accuser in a public trial in front of a jury of your peers. This kind of education increases young people’s civic participation later on in life. This is even more necessary to help address the voting statistics trend that shows 18-25 year olds are the least likely to cast a ballot.
Each year, our Mock Trial case is heard in two neighboring courtrooms at the King County Courthouse, where parents form the bulk of the jury pool and younger siblings are awarded the positions of court clerks and bailiffs. SGS alums have been known to make cameo appearances as witnesses or serve on jury duty over the years (that is, after they make it through Jury Selection in the courtroom).
This year’s case is being tried on December 17, 4-6:30 PM, with Justice Yu and Judge Patrick Oishi presiding. You're invited to come see the girls engaged in our legal system by living it!

SGS Skypes with Quvenzhané Wallis 

Some of our students recently had the opportunity to Skype with actress Quvenzhané Wallis (Annie, Beasts of the Southern Wild, 12 Years a Slave) about fulfilling dreams, building robots, and creating new career paths. Take a look here » 



[Full SGS Calendar here » ]
  • Dec. 11 - Basketball tryouts [Garfield Community Center], 3:30-5 PM
  • Dec. 13 - Admissions Open House, 10 AM-12:30 PM
  • Dec. 17 - Mock Trial - you're invited! [King County Courthouse], 4-6:30 PM
  • Dec. 22 - Jan. 2 - No School [Winter Break]
  • Jan. 8 - CAP Monthly Meeting [Singh House], 8:30-9:30 AM 

SGS Links:

SGS Website
SGS Calendar
Parent Resources
Alum Page
CAP [Community Association of Parents]

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Seattle Girls' School, All rights reserved.


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