French Revolution trial will bring history to life

Annual daylong showcase for AP European History class set for Thursday, Jan. 18

Judge David Mastro (center) sits with his 2017 AP European History class after its French Revolution trial -- the annual daylong event -- staged in the Watertown High School lecture hall on Jan. 26, 2017.

Niki Hamidi, Raider Times staff

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A tyrannical king and queen. Persecuted townspeople. A reign of terror. The events described to you may have taken place in 18th-century France, but Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, the French Revolution trial will take place in our very own Watertown High School.

One day a year one may see an entire group of students adorned with professional outfits and garments dating back hundreds of years, all with panicked looks upon their faces. Other classes at WHS may attend and watch this all unravel, heightening the amount of pressure each participating student feels.

For those who don’t know, Mr. Mastro’s AP European History class has been preparing for the trial of the century for months now, researching and practicing all in anticipation for this one day. Six groups will battle it out — the Monarchy, Girondins, Clergy, French Women, Noblemen, and Montagnes — all in hopes for coming out of the trial victorious.

Participants in the annual French Revolution trial put differences aside to pose with Judge Mastro (front row, center) for a group picture in the Watertown High School lecture hall on Jan. 21, 2016.

The class has been at odds with each other, as secrecy is key if the students want their strategies for winning to remain confidential. Each group has a designated lawyer and their client, just as an ordinary trial would.

The trial will start first period Thursday, and lasts until the end of the day, a grueling six hours filled with emotional turmoil and tension. Opening statements are read aloud by the lawyers, and, from that moment on, anything could happen.

One by one, each group calls up a witness to the stand and the lawyer cross-examines them. This not only tests their ability to come up with an intelligent response on the spot, but also their knowledge of the French Revolution. The judge (Mr. Mastro) and jury (last year’s AP Euro class) watch with vigilant eyes as the fate of those on trial will be determined by each and every one of them.

For the students involved in the trial, one may wonder, are they excited? Nervous? A little bit of both? WHS juniors Melanne Ghahraman and Bandna Kaur said that they were nervous for the trial, but ready to get it over with. Classmate Catherine Holt responded, “It [the trial] consumed my life.”

One WHS student who is not in the class, junior Marissa Gorman, said she is ready to watch the trial and “excited to see how it all turns out,” an opinion much different from those of her peers participating.

Sound interesting? Watch everything unfold in the Lecture Hall on Thursday!

People from all walks of life participated in the annual French Revolution trial, testifying before the court in the Watertown High School lecture hall on Jan. 21, 2016.

A scene from the French Revolution trial — the annual daylong event staged by David Mastro’s AP European History class — in the Watertown High School lecture hall on Jan. 26, 2017.

A scene from the French Revolution trial — the annual daylong event staged by David Mastro’s AP European History class — in the Watertown High School lecture hall on Jan. 26, 2017.

A scene from the French Revolution trial — the annual daylong event staged by David Mastro’s AP European History class — in the Watertown High School lecture hall on Jan. 26, 2017.

A scene from the French Revolution trial — the annual daylong event staged by David Mastro’s AP European History class — in the Watertown High School lecture hall on Jan. 26, 2017.

–Jan. 17, 2018–

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