Students learn about legal system

May. 26, 2014 @ 04:50 PM

Henderson Middle School students received a lesson in murder and crime at Vance-Granville Community College.

About 25 students visited Vance Granville Community College on Thursday to participate in the last College for a Day of the year.

The event featured a presentation from Antoinette Dickens, program head of the paralegal technology department, and Steven Hargrove, head of public service and criminal justice.

They talked about crime and law and defined key terms in the field of criminal justice.

Hargrove showed students websites where they could find sexual offenders and other registered criminals living in their neighborhoods.

“I am just trying to get students to think through the prosecution process and know that sometimes it works in our favor, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Hargrove said.

Then coordinator of law enforcement and basic law enforcement training Tony Pendergrass led students out to the woods behind the community college’s pond to investigate a mock crime scene.

Students lined up shoulder to shoulder to search the woods, eventually finding the skeleton hidden under the leaves.

“It was really cool to be in what I see on CSI all the time,” said seventh-grader Josiah Yarborough. “It looked like the real deal, but it was just a mock. It was great learning about police work and dead bodies.”

Students were able to analyze clues they found around the mock crime scene and get instruction on real-life techniques on what to do in the situation from Pendergrass and Vance County Maj. J.R. Ferguson.

“You would want to keep the body preserved and wait for the medical examiner to tell you why the person died,” Ferguson said.

The program is a collaboration among public law enforcement, Vance Granville Community College and Vance County Schools to teach students about gang violence and give them options for the future, said Melissa Elliot, gang resource officer for Vance County.

“I kind of just wanted students to get exposure,” she said. "Some students feel like they can’t go to college. We do have VGCC in our community, and it’s a great resource, and I just wanted to connect them before they go to jail or become gang-bangers. I thought this was a great thing to do.”

Originally the program was geared more towards high students but eventually moved to incorporate middle school students, as well.

“We would like to see every student participate in the college for the day next year,” said Angela Gardner, dean of Vance Granville Community College business and applied technologies.

 

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.