National School Choice Week President Andrew Campanella spoke with Holy Sepulcher’s principal, Ashley Bauer, recently after reading about their school’s recent mock trial for a cupcake thief, participated in by the school’s fourth-graders.
Andrew Campanella: I love the mock trial for fourth graders. I think it’s fantastic. Do you think that in addition to learning about the law and having fun, the activity also helps students learn about fairness in general?
Ashley Bauer: Absolutely. They talked about this in class, and the students asked the judge a lot of questions about how she makes her decisions and rulings. The judge is a local magistrate and there is no jury, so she needs to make the decisions on her own. She explained to the students all of the things she needs to take into consideration to give people a fair hearing.
Andrew: Do you think there are students who, as a result of this exercise, will consider pursuing the law?
Ashley: I think that some will reflect on it, and I think it’s a lesson that will forever be in their heads. They’ll remember back to the fourth grade when they did this. I think it opens them up to another career opportunity.
Andrew: Tell me more about what your school does to make learning, as much as possible, something that is enjoyable and inspirational to kids.
Ashley: Our teachers are always going out of their way to come up with something a little bigger, something more exciting for the students. They don’t just do worksheets; there’s a lot of hands-on activities. From STEM to robotics to technology, we want students to have time to devote to learning experiences that interest them.
Andrew: Tell me more about the WIN program?
Ashley: In our middle school grades, we have each student choose one area of the academic curriculum that they were going to ‘dive deeper’ into. If they choose history, they’re going to be a part of National History Day. If they’re interested in science, they’re doing a topical project at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science. If they’re into reading, they’re doing the English Fest. If they’re interested in robotics, they can go to competitions around our area. Each day we have
what we call our “WIN period,” which means, “What I Need.” Students have 25 minutes each day of the week to work on their area of interest.
Andrew: Finally, tell me how you celebrate National School Choice Week?
Ashley: The whole entire week gives us an opportunity to celebrate what makes Holy Sepulcher so special. We go out of our way to showcase who we are and what we have to offer. And each day, we pick a group that we are going to celebrate: students, our families, our community, our church, our teachers, etc. Each day is themed, and then we have a dress-down day when we rock those yellow fleece scarves and inform our parents and parishioners about the importance of