CHS seniors put forensics skills to the test

Izzy Cavazzoni

Each semester, the senior forensics class is tasked with solving a mock murder mystery. With teachers posed as suspects and victims, seniors put their detective skills to use and crack the case. This project was introduced to CHS along with the forensics course six years ago, and students have prosecuted one of their teachers every year since.

Students are split into teams of four or five to collect and analyze evidence, as well as interview suspects and witnesses, ultimately indicting the murderer, according to teacher of the forensics course, Leah Morgan. At the end of the project, students are to turn in a 125 to 150 page murder book that compiles all of the evidence they have gathered as well as their claims, two weeks prior to the initial “investigation.”

Morgan said she believes the mock murder mystery is an effective way to encapsulate an entire semester’s worth of forensic knowledge and put students’ ability to the test.

“The objective of the project is for the students to apply all of the skills and techniques they have learned over the course of the semester to a ‘real life’ situation. I try to incorporate varied pieces of evidence that require students to repeat the lab activities they learned earlier in the semester. Ideally, the students perform these tests without [my] help – just based on their knowledge and data from their lab notebook,” Morgan said.

Senior Caitlin Brehm of Brielle, a forensics student this semester, said she is enjoying solving the murder and agrees that it is an effective way for students to review.

“I think it really helped us to apply what we have learned throughout the semester,” Brehm said.

The storyline of this year’s “murder” loosely follows that of ABC’s hit show How to Get Away with Murder, according to Morgan. Teacher Bill Clark is a regular participant in the simulated murder, this year playing the role of the murder victim. Clark hinted at the murderers of this year’s case.

“It was actually a pretty cool [case] this year. There were two people that killed me,” Clark said.

Clark also said he believes the forensics program at CHS surpasses that of any other school.

“SkillsUSA has a forensics [competition]. Several years ago, students that competed made it all the way to nationals, so that means we beat all the criminal justice schools,” Clark said.

Seniors taking the forensics course have set a precedent which many underclassmen hope to follow suit in, looking forward to when it is their turn to take forensics and solve the murder. Sophomore Cole Raymond of Middletown is interested in taking forensics senior year.

“Solving the murder case definitely seems fun and challenging,” Raymond said.