Fourth- and fifth-grade students in Arrowhead Elementary School's gifted class held mock trials in Delaware County Municipal Court Judge David Sunderman's courtroom May 21.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students in Arrowhead Elementary School's gifted class held mock trials in Delaware County Municipal Court Judge David Sunderman's courtroom May 21.

Twelve fourth-graders conducted a trial of Rumplestiltskin as part of the Law Related Education Program through the Ohio Bar Association, said gifted teacher Carol Strip Whitney.

Twelve fifth-graders wrote and acted out a deportation trial of Patricia O'Reilley, an Irish au-pair worker, said Strip Whitney.

The story: The U.S. government finds out that O'Reilley is still in the country a year after her visa expired. O'Reilley didn't realize that the restrictions of the visa still applied to her, as she no longer worked for the au pair company.

"The concept of a trial developed from the (Ohio Department of Education) state standards (for) teaching government and the constitution," Strip Whitney said in an e-mail. "Mock trials cover a variety of laws such as traffic laws, transfer of title, pollution of a river, civil dispute over gun control, employment discrimination, etc. ... The Patricia O'Reilley case is a federal case and it was chosen right now because immigration is a hot topic.

"Rumplestiltskin is (about) a state law regarding the breaching of a contract," she wrote.

Hands-on experiences are important for learning, she said, noting that it helps students internalize what they are learning and it helps them "connect with their government first-hand."

The class also received a visit from U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township) who answered the students' questions on "Obama's health care reform, the stimulus effort, the casino issue on the May 4 ballot and homeless people," Strip Whitney wrote.