HUDSON FALLS — Even after reading the play and seeing the movie, sophomores at Hudson Falls High School still wanted to learn more about Reginald Rose’s “Twelve Angry Men.”
So their teachers, including Harold Cloud and April MacLean, went a step beyond the classroom.
Their teachers took them to court, and to the jury room, and to the holding cell and to meet with the district attorney, public defender and judge.
“I think it was a great experience for them, because they were able to watch court and get a real taste of how the court works,” said Michael Mercure, head public defender for Washington County and one of a number of county employees who welcomed more than 100 students to the municipal center. “They got to go in a real deliberation room and observe actual court proceedings. They seemed very interested throughout the entire tour.”
District Attorney Tony Jordan said he and Judge Kelly McKeighan had done it with other schools, so when the Hudson Falls English teachers approved him, he was all for it.
“Christian (Morris) from my staff talked to the students about jury selection, and he said they got really engaged in the discussion,” Jordan said. “The story is about racial stereotypes and social stereotypes and prejudice, all wrapped around a courthouse. This was a great way for them to go deeper.”
Cloud said one of the great parts about the trip was that the students were able to learn about the kinds of jobs available within the municipal center.
“They got a chance to really see how things work in the real world and how many aspects there are to what goes on down there,” Cloud said. “The people at the municipal center did an incredible job organizing the visit. And for us, we are always trying to make connections outside the classroom.”
County Attorney Roger Wickes was instrumental in setting up the trip.
Cloud said the behind-the-scenes trip made quite an impact on the students.
“They got a real chance to learn that it’s not just the trial. It’s everything leading up to it,” he said. “They had lunch in the jury selection room, and they got to see the jury deliberation room, just like in the play.”
Beyond the courtroom, they got to see the 911 call center and dispatch.
“They love technology.” he said. “They talked so much about it.”