YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The Yorktown Justice Court was standing-room only on Friday, May 4, as town justices Sal Lagonia and Gary Raniolo presided over a mock trial led by Adele Kivel’s fourth-grade class from Crompond Elementary School. The case of Smartech v. ROZZUM 7134 was inspired by the book, “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown, which was read earlier in the school year. The entire class came dressed according to their various roles (attorneys, robots, animals, experts, etc.)

This trial was the culminating project for the project-based learning (PBL) unit, which focused on persuasive writing, gathering research for evidence and public speaking. At the same time, the students got an introduction to the judicial system. The students spent many weeks preparing for the trial under the instruction of class parent and local attorney Jeffrey Lindenbaum, as well as parents Detective John Tyndal and Jeff Mezzancello. The students all came prepared to convince the jury of the factual and legal arguments that supported their sides of the case.

Six of the students played the role of the attorneys, with Michael Mezzancello, Jayden Tyndal and Olivia Delgadio representing the plaintiff, while attorneys Jacob Lindenbaum, Nick D’Andraia and Stephanie Douglas represented the defendant. After persuasive opening and closing arguments and direct and cross-examination of 18 witnesses (all of whom were students in Kivel’s class), the jury (composed of students from another fourth-grade class) ruled in favor of the defendants.