(Classroom) criminal investigation at BEST

Deep within the walls of a small high school with a strong alternative learning environment, creative minds come together to solve a crime.

The scene that was put before them was that of a mysterious bank robbery. On the fictional morning of Feb. 16, a guard working for Grink's Protection Service was delivering money to Fidelity Bank. As soon as the guard opened the doors to the armored car, two men with guns ambushed him. They told him to empty the truck. Both men were wearing masks.

Everything was going smoothly, but one of the robbers left a telling clue; when the police checked the truck's door handle, they found a set of fingerprints. The prints belonged to Frank Paxton, the owner of a nearby pizzeria. When the police entered the pizzeria they found all of the stolen money inside two pizza boxes, and in the pizzeria they also found Bret Brewster, a short man with a heavy build. The owner, Frank Paxton was nowhere to be found.

The police arrested Bret Brewster, accusing him of being the getaway driver. So is Bret guilty? Here are the clues: Exhibit A: a key to the pizzeria, found in the pocket of Bret Brewster's jacket. Exhibit B: Fingerprints belonging to Frank Paxton found on the door to the truck and on the many pizza boxes. Exhibit C: a picture of the front door of the pizzeria, with a closed sign in the front window. Maybe we'll never know who really assisted in robbing the armored car...but I know someone will.

Students at BEST High School are faced with this kind of scenario every day, in forensic science. Forensic science is a class where students are allowed to open their minds to the many career choices involving forensics. It is also used to help students develop their investigation skills.

One of the projects that students are asked to do is research a specific type of forensic work, for example forensic anthropology: the study of bones and skeletal remains. Another example is Forensic entomology: the study of insects, to determine how long a person has been dead. BEST High School is exceedingly lucky to have this class considering that there is only one other school in the Lake Washington School District that has forensic science as an option.

Students and teachers are thrilled to have this opportunity to expand their minds in such a different way. During some of the major labs held in forensic science, students are faced with real life problems and questions. Students work with real bones, and real forensic tools learning how to measure and "read" every scratch and bend, every finger print and every clue. Which brings back Exhibit C, the picture of the front door... there's something missing, can you see it?

Every story has an alternative ending, and what better place to find it, than in this stimulating alternative learning environment.

Maggie Burrows is a student at BEST High School

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