Research papers get death penalty

Maddie Dimond, Entertainment Editor

Eighth-grader Megan M. doesn’t have to worry about writing a practice research paper in order to understand the structure of argumentation. That’s because all eighth-grade language arts classes will be acting as prosecutors and defense attorneys in the two of the most famous murder cases in history: the Borden Family and JonBenét Ramsey. In assigning their students to defend or prosecute the accused murderers, language arts teachers Carrie Aune and Jessica Hartman hope to teach them the structures of an argument in a more active way.

“The whole point of this is research,” Aune said. “They are learning how to back up a claim with credible support and how to properly argue things with evidence. This just seems like a much more unique way of doing it than a boring research paper.”

Aune’s classes will either defend or prosecute Lizzy Borden, a 32-year old woman who was acquitted for the axe murder of her father and step mother in 1892.

“The class was split in half for prosecution and defense, and they are limited to only evidence that could have been used in the 1800s,”  Aune said. “They can’t use fingerprints or DNA or anything like that, but there was still a lot of incriminating evidence that they will uncover in their research.”

Hartman’s class has a similar set up, but instead they will be trying Patsy and John Ramsey, the parents of murdered JonBenét Ramsey. JonBenét was a 6-year-old pagent girl that was found dead in the family’s basement eight hours after being reported missing. The girl’s parents were found not guilty after DNA partially exonerated them.

“I think this is a really cool thing because it is different and we get to collaborate with others,” Megan M. said. “We get to work together, and I feel like I am learning more this way than being on my own for a boring research paper.”

Editor’s note: Brevard Public Schools policy prohibits the inclusion of middle-schoolers’ last names on its web sites.