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Upshur County Students Participate In Mock Trial

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Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School students ended a unit on criminal justice with their day in court on Monday.

It all started with a crime that wouldn't be out of place on Law and Order: A student indulges in drugs and alcohol at a party and later dies, as a result of the dangerous combination.

Of course, there wasn't an actual death, and drugs were not given to students. It was all part of a unit on the criminal justice system that came to a peak at a mock trial in Buckhannon.

Teacher Vicki Sharp said she was impressed with how passionate her students were about the project.

"We went to City Hall and then they wrote reports and it was amazing. They did fingerprinting, they collected evidence and now we're here with the trial," said Sharp.

Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory worked with Sharp and the students as part of the unit. He hopes that students involved in the process will take away some lessons that they can use in everyday life.

"We really wanted them to think on their feet, to be able to improvise when things didn't go their way. And again, it was the goal for the trail and for the unit itself, but again it was a life lesson beyond that to think critically and to improvise," said Gregory.

There was plenty to learn about the criminal justice system as a whole. Hannah Eshelman was one of the prosecutors on the case, and she said she learned a lot of specific lessons as well.

"Learning how our system works here in America, which is really different compared to other countries, and it really makes you appreciate how our system works," Eshelman said.

Sharp said she'll also turn the trial into an anti-drug message as they continue to study the process over the next few weeks. Eshelman and her partner also got their guilty verdict as the trial came to a close.