Students taken to Jackson County Courthouse


Katie Cottrill, Staff Writer

On Friday, April 21st the students of English 9 Honors reenacted the Tom Robinson trial from Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. Months prior, Mrs. Cottrill set a date with Judge AmyMarie Travis to find the perfect time. Judge Travis can host the group only if her trail schedule is free. If not, then they would have to reenact in the auditorium. This is Mrs. Cottrill and Judge Travis’ 6th time partnering together.

As they neared the date, Mrs. Cottrill selected the students to portray the characters. “I have students complete a Google form of their interest in reading a role. I try to assign everyone interested to a part. The strongest readers have to play the narrators, but I really need ‘actors’ to fill the shoes of Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell, and Bob Ewell,” said Mrs. Cottrill. Getting into the role can be difficult. You have to really understand where your character has been and what happens in their life. Student Angel Garcia, who portrayed Tom Robinson, spoke on his part: “Becoming Tom showed me a perspective of a man who lives in fear but still tries to make his days the best they can be.” 

This trial represents the justice and injustice of the South’s society in the 1930’s. Kennedy Burnette who portrayed Mayella Ewell, spoke on the verdict: “He was cheated out of justice; Tom Robinson, a Black man, should not have had to stand there to defend himself as a handful of white men go against him.” 

After the students returned to SHS, they went to the auditorium to watch Just Mercy, the true story of Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman that he didn’t commit. McMillian’s attorney, Bryan Stevenson, persevered through the case even though McMillian’s guilty verdict sent him to death row. His verdict was finally overturned in 1993. 

To Kill A Mockingbird is a novel that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. It is a novel about the rights and the wrongs of the South’s society and the lesson of standing in the shoes of others to see their point of view. You get a valuable perspective about equal rights and the injustice through Tom Robinson’s story and to treat all people with kindness and respect through the Boo Radley plot. Many students were moved by this experience.

Lauren Dowell, one of the narrators, shared, “I believe it is [an important field trip] because it really helps our understanding of important US history. Even though this was a bad part in our past, it is still worth knowing that we were able to change our wrong ways and feel blessed to have the justice system that we have.”