July 15: Jim Barnhill, Teaching Through Mock Trials in High Schools

posted Jul 15, 2014, 1:52 PM by Amherst Club
President Roger Webb called the meeting of the Amherst Club to order at noon on Tuesday, July 15th 2014, and welcomed us all.

Roger noted that there will not be a Love Notes meeting today but there will be one on Tuesday 22nd immediately after lunch.

Roger reminded the Cub that an envelope for the Amherst Schools Backpack Project will be passed around again today. If anyone wants to claim a tax deduction for their donation, they must make their check out to the Amherst-Pelham  Regional Schools and write Backpack Project on the memo line. Otherwise, make the check out to the Amherst Club.

If anyone needs to pick up a new Club Directory, ask Jacquie Price for one.


Jacquie Price read Billy Collins’ poem “The Blues”,  from  his book “The Art of Drowning.”


Andrea Battle introduced our speaker this week, the Club’s own Jim Barnhill. A recovering attorney, as he has described himself, Jim spoke today about his volunteer work with the Mock Trial courts offered in some schools in Massachusetts and nationally. Jim has offered this program in the Mass. Academy, a science and math focused charter school, and the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School, another charter school but one with an entirely different curricular emphasis. The program consists of teams numbering between 9 and 18 students, who prepare and train to present a somewhat realistic trial, incorporating some of the actual rules of evidence used in real courts. They argue for and against their case in front of an actual attorney, playing the role of a judge. They are scored on the excellence of their content, presentation, and reaction (this means the agility with which they react to their opponent’s arguments and evidence). The teams compete with 7 local schools, and the winner then goes on to compete statewide, The ultimate state winner competes nationally. Jim noted that participation in this process improves the students’ poise and public speaking skills, and teaches them how to stand their ground in a dispute. Many members said they would have really enjoyed this program but it wasn’t offered in their day.

Raffle:  Barbara Freed won the wine and Bonnie Isman the $10.


Larry Siddall announced that the Activities Committee has scheduled a tour of the Emily Dickinson Museum.  280 Main St., Amherst.   Date:  Wednesday, July 30  Time:  9:30 AM   Length of tour:  about 90 minutes.   Cost:  $11 per person.     

Minimum number required for this tour:  6.  

Deadline to confirm the tour:  Friday, July 18.

If you would like to attend this tour, please give or send Larry a check for $11 made out to the Emily Dickinson Museum by Friday, July 18. If not enough members sign up, your check will be returned.

The tour includes the Homestead and the Evergreens. Of special interest is the current renovation of Emily's bedroom. Please check out the museum's website for further information.



Larry Siddall’s photos of Europe and Egypt are going on show at the Amherst Town Hall as part of the Art Walk on Thursday July 3rd. They are hanging on three different floors of the Town Hall, and will be on display through August.

Your scribe,                                                                                                                                                   
Linda Honan