Waldorf students are getting hands-on lessons in criminal investigation, forensic science, and constitutional law.
Students at the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm are becoming police detectives, forensic experts, and criminal trial attorneys during a six-week elective program for middle school students. A retired LAPD homicide detective and his wife, a retired Los Angeles deputy district attorney and law school professor, have transformed the school’s eighth-grade classroom into a crime scene, a forensic evidence lab, and a court room. The students have dusted for finger prints, conducted experiments (with fake blood) to learn the physics and geometry behind blood splatter analysis, and learned the logic of how a piece of circumstantial evidence leads to an argument at trial.
“I have simplified a course that I used to teach at UCLA School of Law,” says former Deputy District Attorney, Suzanne Wright, “and have taught the students how the Bill of Rights plays out in a criminal court room. When students learn something – even something as complex as constitutional law – by acting out scenarios, they understand it at a much deeper level than just reading about it.”
Former LAPD Detective Supervisor Paul Wright shared his decades of experience as a police detective, which included working on over 200 homicides. And, in one class, a Waldorf alumni parent, who is a current Special Agent with the FBI, brought the FBI’s forensic laboratory truck to the school. The Special Agent did not need to turn the police lights on to excite the students – but he did it anyway.
“The electives are something the students look forward to each year because they get to choose a class on a topic that they are interested in,” said eighth grade teacher Rebecca Rugo. “It’s also a great way to bring the community into our school.”