WINDHAM, Maine — English, science, journalism, and law students from Windham High School participated in a mock crime scene investigation late last week. The mock scene was set up near the school's outdoor recreation field.
The car used for the fake crime scene was part of an actual crash and was brought to the school grounds to teach students how a crime scene investigation works. The goal was for students to connect with their local police officers and investigators and learn how to be responsible citizens when driving.
While going through the case, detectives guided students through the investigation.
"We talk about safe driving practices, distracted driving, making sure we are paying attention," school resource officer Seth Fournier said.
"For a lot of kids, unfortunately, their initial interaction with law enforcement tends to be negative, so we are trying to really paint a positive picture with our community and our students as far as law enforcement interactions," Fournier said.
The students played the role of detectives to try and help solve the crime through the different evidence pieces by speaking with witnesses, interviewing the driver, and analyzing the evidence.
Before the hands-on activity, a class led by the officers taught them the basics.
"I am learning a lot about how to process information, how to kind of like zone in on what you are looking for," Lake Peterson, one of the participating students, said.
School superintendent Chris Howell said it was a team effort to plan the program for the students, including teachers, the police department, the fire department, the local public works department, and SOS Towing, which moved the car to and from the location.
"The group of teachers that plans this along with our school resource officer look for different situations that students can go ahead and collect data, do some problem solving, and really tackle some real-world problems," Howell said.
"Just walking around, looking at the crime scene ... analyzing it, making theories, that's my favorite part. Thinking about stuff, coming up with theories, and trying to solve it," Peterson said.
The day was considered a big success by everyone involved, and they hope to repeat the experience for new students in the years to come.