Staples’ valedictorian is murdered. Evidence points to the salutatorian. But the killer is really a jealous teacher.
No, it’s not breaking news, nor a tale from Westport’s sordid past. It’s the story line of a movie made by students in Forensics, one of Staples High School’s most innovative and popular elective courses.
Over the past couple of weeks juniors and seniors wrote a script, then filmed and edited a video drawing together much of what they learned about pathology, biology, chemistry, physics, psychology and the law.
Sure, during a study session the salutatorian told the valedictorian “I could kill you.” And yeah, the valedictorian was then found floating in a pool. But was that evidence enough to arrest the student?
No — not when a teacher left a hair on some masking tape, and fingerprints on a note. Teacher Mike Lazaroff’s students examined the medulla inside the hair, matched DNA through gel electrophoresis, and — by the end of the film — got their man.
Director/cinematogrpaher Zach Wheat edited writer Rachel Gofman’s script into “CSI Staples: You Got Schooled.” The most difficult part, he says, was “balancing education with the movie we all wanted to make.”
That’s not all the Forensics students did this month. For their final exam they spent days examining an elaborate crime scene (a woman’s head was bashed in) and whittling down lists of suspects, then another week preparing for a court trial. Students play all roles, including prosecution and defense.
That’s education 2009-style: multi-discipline. Complex. Hands-on. Collaborative. Engaging. And totally, completely real-world relevant.