West Jeff students help to pick new elective courses

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By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

West Jefferson High School is testing the waters for new elective courses for 2014-2015 by gathering input from teachers and students.

The list of possibilities includes traditional courses (geography and modern world history), a psychology-based option (human behavior in literature) and a course reflective of current technology (website creation).

Other elective possibilities include public speaking and debate, leadership development, meteorology, personal fitness, science fiction and fantasy, drama, Ohio history, geology, environmental science, creative writing, weight training and lifetime fitness, and junior/senior writing.

“The list was basically submitted by teachers,” said Principal David Metz. “We’ll now submit it to students. It looks like we have some very good ideas and possibilities for next year.”

Students were asked to read over the list of options and indicate their interest in any subject, along with submitting their own ideas for potential classes. However, just because a course is on the list, that does not mean it will be offered.

Mock trial team advances

Also at the Feb. 10 school board meeting, Metz congratulated the high school’s mock trial teams, coached by teacher Jenny Siddiqi and volunteer Marla Farbacher. Both teams advanced to the Feb. 21 regional competition set to take place at the Franklin County Courthouse.

 “There were 28 schools there,” Metz said of the Jan. 31 qualifier. “Nine teams made it out (of sectional competition) and two were from West Jeff. Seven (West Jefferson) students took top honors.”

Named as “best attorney” were Allison Haskins, Austin Murry, Bethany Maynard and Ally Smith. Best witnesses were Maddie Phillips, Andrew Lewis and Drew Smith.

 “Our student body is excited about it. I congratulate them on the tremendous amount of work that they do,” Metz said.

Students participating in the mock trial competition are enrolled in an elective advanced trial procedures class taught by Siddiqi. The course prepares juniors and seniors who successfully completed a criminal law course for the competition, conducted annually by the Ohio Center for Law Related Education. Students explore topics relating to the functions of the Ohio court system including structure, jurisdiction, and the difference between criminal and civil law.

Students work together as a class to construct legal arguments supporting and attacking both sides of the given case. They also write opening and closing statements, and direct and cross examination questions. Students are selected to participate in the competition as either witnesses or attorneys.

The focus of the 2014 competition is based on an actual case in which Phillips High School agreed to license naming rights to a large corporation. Students protested the decision and, in response, the school installed security cameras, searched lockers and filed a law suit. The students claimed the district’s actions violated their first and fourth amendment rights.

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