Testimony was tense at times as the characters in this drama told their sides of the story to a jury of their peers. In the end, the jury was swayed by the Wolf’s previous history of harassment and consumption of Pig’s family.
The participants in this educational exercise were fifth- and sixth-grade students from Sierra Vista Elementary School in Reno. The group of about 120 students came to Sparks Justice Court on Monday to act out the case under the direction of judges Susan Deriso and Egan Walker, who came up with the idea as a way to give children some hands-on experience with courtroom proceedings.
“This would have been helpful for me,” said Deriso, thinking back to her own youth before her days on the bench.
Thirteen students played the roles of plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, judge, bailiff, witness and jury in the case, which saw Wolf, played by sixth-grader Samuel Gomez, sue Pig for damages to his fur and mental pain suffered when he climbed down Pig’s chimney. The pot of boiling water in the fireplace were a blatant attempt by Pig, played with flair and charm by sixth-grader Jacob Johnson, to cook and eat him, Wolf claimed in court.
The script devised by Walker mimicked a real court hearing, complete with testimony, cross examinations, objections and finally a verdict. The outcome isn’t scripted, however, allowing the students to behave like a real jury.
Monday’s enactment was a dress rehearsal for a May 26 presentation of the case before the entire Sierra Vista student body.
As a bonus Monday, students were treated with a visit at the courtroom by Lycan, a real-life 1-year-old wolf owned by the Straw family of Sparks. The curious animal sniffed and strolled among the students, who learned about its life and how the family domesticated it yet still makes many accommodations for his animal nature.
If Lycan got a hold of a real pig, Brittany Straw told the students, it would surely be lunch in no time no matter what kind of house it lived in.
“If they had seen the wolf before the play, (the verdict) would have been different,” Deriso said.